From Jobs to Careers: Apparel Exports and Career Paths for Women in Developing Countries

It is well-established that bringing more women into the formal labor force is critical for economic development. One strategy often cited is further integrating developing countries into global trade, particularly global value chains (GVCs), to contribute to female labor market outcomes through the expansion of female-intensive industries. As a result, a big question frequently debated, is whether the apparel industry – which is the most female-intensive and globally engaged manufacturing industry – can be a key player in this regard. In recent decades, the apparel industry has shifted its production to low-wage developing countries, increasing the demand for women, closing male-female wage gaps, and bringing women into the formal labor force. Indeed, the benefits of apparel exports have reached the female population, but is an apparel-led export strategy sufficient to induce the transition from jobs to careers? This Report provides an answer by focusing on seven countries where the apparel industry plays an important role in its export basket – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. The Report’s key finding is that countries should take advantage of the apparel industry as a launching platform to overcome the fixed costs of introducing more women into the labor market. However, for this approach to work, there needs to be complementary policies that tackle the barriers that hinder women in their pursuit of long-term participation in the labor force and better-paid occupations. A hope is to shift the paradigm of how we think of women’s participation in the labor force by demonstrating the importance of the distinction between jobs and careers. Although aspirations towards careers are achieved in different ways, understanding how progress is being made in each country towards a more equitable life between men and women will pave the way for a better route forward.

Occupational safety and health improvement in agricultural global supply chains

This synthesis review identifies common drivers and constraints for OSH improvements in agricultural global supply chains. The findings provide information that can assist in developing effective strategies to improve OSH in agricultural global supply chains and to identify research gaps and potential for future research. The report is published by the ILO Vision Zero Fund.

Occupational safety and health improvement in the garment industry

The objective of this synthesis review is to establish OSH vulnerability profiles and identify the common drivers that could be leveraged and the constraints that should be addressed to improve OSH in garment factories. The findings provide information that could be used in developing effective strategies to improve OSH in global supply chains in the garment industry and to identify research gaps and potential for future research. The report is published by the ILO Vision Zero Fund.

Workforce Development

The Duke GVC Center provides practical, real-world advice that informs decision-making related to workforce development, among other areas. Over the years, the Duke GVC Center’s research has shed light on questions such as:

  1. What are the labor skills required to participate in the global economy?
  2. As industries upgrade, what will be the future workforce skills needed?
  3. Are countries educating the workforce for the current and future labor demand?

These issues impact not only businesses, but also governments, industry associations, international organizations and educational institutions. Responding effectively to these challenges enables countries to be more competitive and companies to be more profitable.

IMPACT SUMMARY IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Since 2007, the Duke GVC Center has produced 85 reports across 31 countries. The research team has given 93 presentations, authored over 100 additional publications, and have led several training workshops. All of this output provides insights on workforce development in varying degrees. The entire Duke GVC Center research team has extensive experience in researching workforce development issues in various parts of the world.

CLIENT CASE STUDIES RELATED TO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

The Center has conducted in-depth research on workforce development for RTI International, OECD and the World Bank. The following is a snapshot of the ways the Duke GVC Center has generated impact for these clients.

Skills for Upgrading: Workforce Development and Global Value Chains in Developing Countries

Client: RTI International

Challenge: How can workforce development strategies enhance the upgrading efforts and competitiveness of developing countries in global industries? The goal of this research project was to provide insights to this question for policymakers, donors and development practitioners.

Approach & Outcome: To better understand the relationship between upgrading and workforce development, four dynamic global industries – fruit and vegetables, apparel, offshore services and tourism – were studied in 15 developing countries including Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Nicaragua, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vietnam. The research was carried out in three main steps:

(1) Map the structure of each industry GVC in terms of its main activities, value adding stages, and firms;

(2) Identify and analyze the participation of individual developing countries in GVCs in order to show the main challenges at entry, middle and high levels of upgrading; and

(3) Analyze and compare the role of workforce development initiatives when a country upgrades.

Based on this research, the Duke GVC Center highlighted commonalities across industry case studies and stages of upgrading. The research team then recommended workforce development initiatives that would enhance economic and social upgrading.

Skills for Private Sector Development: Burundi in the Agribusiness, Coffee and Energy Global Value Chains

Client: World Bank

Challenge: Burundi has experienced several years of modest growth and improved political stability since the end of its major political conflict in the early 2000s. Agribusiness, coffee and electrical energy are three industries crucial to the country’s development. The goal for the Skills for Private Sector Development project was to identify specific strategies for upgrading within these industries. This would help Burundi promote its development, generate export earnings while expanding employment (particularly among youth) and raise incomes.

Approach & Outcome: The GVC framework examines the shifting organization of global and regional industries by analyzing the characteristics and dynamics of different firms and suppliers involved in these activities. The Duke GVC Center team used this framework to identify sector-specific opportunities for upgrading Burundi’s participation in each value chain.

Promoting Decent Work in Global Supply Chains (GSCs) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC): Key Issues, Good Practices, Lessons Learned and Policy Insights

The report, prepared by Dr. Gereffi, Penny Bamber and Karina Fernandez-Stark for the International Labour Organisation (ILO), uses a case-based approach to analyze circumstances under which both economic and social upgrading have been achieved simultaneously. The report is based on a desk-based review, drawing upon existing studies of GSCs to examine their impacts and implications for the development of domestic firms and workers, their contribution to productive transformation and structural change and their impacts on the quantity and quality of jobs in the LAC region.

Burundi in the Energy Global Value Chain: Skills for Private Sector Development

The Skills for Private Sector Development Project, commissioned by the Education Division of the World Bank, employed the GVC framework to identify specific workforce development strategies to foster upgrading within three industries crucial to Burundi’s economic development: agribusiness, coffee and energy. Upgrading in these value chains is dependent on developing new capabilities and generally requires a substantially different set of workers with different skill sets. Knowing the requirements at each stage can help policy makers to prepare the workforce for the needs of future upgrading strategies. Burundi faces high and growing demand for electrical energy. Political and economic instability over the last two decades, however, has undermined the development of the country’s energy sector. With very low installed capacity, Burundi faces significant challenges with respect to energy supplies in the country. 90% of the country’s energy needs are currently met by the burning of biomass, primarily wood, for cooking and heat contributing to deforestation and health care issues, and the lack of electrical energy supply constrains the development of the country in the long term. As the country continues to rebuild its economy following the end of the crisis, policy makers, donors and the private sector have expressed interest in bolstering the sector, both as a means to promote economic output and also to leverage the sector for improved labor productivity and job creation for the large number of unemployed youth in the country.

Burundi in the Coffee Global Value Chain: Skills for Private Sector Development

Burundi in the Agribusiness Global Value Chain: Skills for Private Sector Development

Agriculture is the central pillar of Burundi’s economy and employing virtually the entire rural workforce. This report examines the skills and workforce training needs across the different segments of the value chain to support Burundi’s upgrading in the agribusiness global value chains. With the consolidation of markets and stringent quality standards, producers in developing countries have commonly faced increasing pressure to invest in upgrading skills and knowledge of producers in export-oriented agribusiness value chains.

Burundi in the Agribusiness, Coffee and Energy Global Value Chains: Skills for Private Sector Development: Project Overview

The Skills for Private Sector Development Project, commissioned by the Education Division of the World Bank, employed the GVC framework to identify specific workforce development strategies to foster upgrading within three industries crucial to Burundi’s economic development: agribusiness, coffee and energy. Upgrading in these value chains is dependent on developing new capabilities and generally requires a substantially different set of workers with different skill sets. Knowing the requirements at each stage can help policy makers to prepare the workforce for the needs of future upgrading strategies.

Quantifying the Nanotechnology Workforce: Methods, Barriers & Estimates

‘This presentation was given at the SASE Annual Meeting in Milan, Italy on June 28, 2013. It was part of an ongoing research project between the Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS) at UC-Santa Barbara and Duke CGGC.