Key readings on employment and labor markets in 2022

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What were some of the most interesting readings this year on employment and labor markets? Here is our list of curated resources on labor market oriented education, ALMPs, MSME development, labor migration, JobTech, and more…

By Kevin Hempel, Helen Osborne, Sara Johansson de Silva, Rachel Blum | December 2022
Staying up to date with current research and practice can be challenging, especially for busy policymakers and practitioners focused on keeping day-to-day operations afloat. This is why we decided to compile a list of resources published in 2022 that we believe can be particularly useful for colleagues working on employment and labor market related topics.

We tried to cover a range of sub-topics, while also keeping the number of readings under each sub-topic limited to ensure that the list remains digestible. Hence, this list is not intended to be comprehensive; it is just our take on some of the most interesting readings we have come across over the course of the year. Please also note that a few of the listed resources may have come out in late 2021 but were only disseminated in 2022, which is why we decided to include them.

What were your highlights of 2022 on employment and labor market related readings? Let us know on LinkedIn or via email.

Labor Market Oriented Education & TVET

Pathways to Professions. Understanding Higher Vocational and Professional Tertiary Education Systems (OECD) | Interesting comparison of higher vocational and professional tertiary education programs across OECD countries.

The Fast Track to New Skills: Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (and blog post) (World Bank) | Comprehensive analysis on short-cycle higher ed programs (2-3 years) that can also be informative for other countries outside of Latin America.

A World of Transformation: Moving from Degrees to Skills-Based Alternative Credentials (Interamerican Development Bank) | Nice overview how alternative credentials may complement (or even replace) traditional degree programs.

Got curious about Microcredentials? Here is another in-depth look at microcredentials in the European context. Microcredentials for labour market education and training (by CEDEFOP)

Career readiness (OECD) | New web page featuring lots of useful OECD resources on career guidance.


Active Labor Market Policies

Interventions to increase youth employment: An evidence and gap map (Apunyo et al.) | Review of almost 400 studies in terms of which countries existing evidence comes from, most common study designs, robustness of evidence, and common outcomes measured.  

Understanding Youth Learning to Earning Journeys: The Case for a New Learning Agenda (IREX) | Some critical reflections calling for a shift in how we look at youth employment.

Evidence on vocational and skills training programs as well as job search support (JPAL) | Synthesis of evidence from randomized evaluations (nicely hyperlinked to the original papers).

Paying for results: Contracting out employment services through outcome-based payment schemes in OECD countries (OECD) | Review of experiences with contracting out employment services through outcome-based payment schemes.

Practitioner toolkit on strengthening PES to improve the labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities (European Commission) | A collection of good practices from European Public Employment Services on how to ensure that services are sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities.


Entrepreneurship & MSME development

How to fulfill the potential of Business Development Services using SCALE (Argidius Foundation) | Comprehensive synthesis of evidence and good practices on Business Development Services, drawing on years of research and practice in the Foundation’s work with many partner organizations. Also includes several supporting documents and tools.

Evidence bites on entrepreneurship and business support (Innovation Growth Lab) | Synthesis of insights from experimental research about entrepreneurship education, business consulting, and business training.

Supporting women entrepreneurs in developing countries: What works? (Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative) | Literature review summarizing what works to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries, looking at four focus areas: access to finance, access to skills and networks, access to markets, and enabling environment.

Women’s Economic Empowerment Gateway (DCED) | Collection of resources to facilitate the design and implementation of more effective gender-sensitive private sector development programs.


Labor Migration

Why and How Development Agencies Facilitate Labor Migration (Center for Global Development, Mercy Corps) | Based on interviews with nine development agencies, the paper explores why and how development agencies in high-income countries facilitate labor migration and how they have been able to justify and expand their mandate in this area.

Fears and Tears. Should More People Be Moving within and from Developing Countries, and What Stops This Movement? (World Bank) | Great discussion of the psychological factors that affect migration decisions, such as uncertainty associated with migration, status quo bias, and loss aversion.

Promoting Evidence-Informed Immigrant Integration Policymaking (Migration Policy Institute) | Interesting analysis on why there is relatively little evidence on immigrant immigration policies and what strategies may help to foster more evidence-informed policymaking in Europe and beyond.


JobTech & Digitalization

What really is jobtech? (MercyCorps) | Nice conceptual overview of the types of business models covered under the concept of “jobtech”. You may also want to sign up to the Jobtech Alliance community to stay up to date with ongoing work in Africa.

Platform Livelihoods (Caribou Digital) | Tons of interesting studies and other resources on a variety of platform work.

Managing labour risks and opportunities of platform work (British International Investment, SIFEM, Ergon) | Useful overview of labor-related risks associated with platform work, incl. some practical guidance how investors in digital labor intermediation platforms can identify and manage these risks.

You may also want to check out this article on Platform work in emerging and developing countries: potential and pitfalls on Ergon’s Blog.

Digitalization and Employment: A review (ILO) | Literature review which examines new labor market opportunities brought about by digital transformation, while also highlighting which groups of people are at risk of being marginalized in the digital economy.


Green Economy

Global Green Skills Report 2022 (LinkedIn) | Overview about trends on green jobs and skills (based on LinkedIn data).

Greening Enterprises. Transforming processes and workplaces (ILO) | An in-depth look at which companies are “going green”, what greening can look like, government regulatory efforts, and the perspectives of MSMEs.

Apprenticeships for greener economies and societies (Cedefop & OECD) | Collection of research on how apprenticeships can support the green transition, the challenges in doing so and the conditions and support needed to overcome possible obstacles.

World Energy Employment Report (IEA) | Comprehensive analysis of the energy workforce globally, incl. renewable energy. Bonus: This article on understanding gender gaps in the energy sector.

Global Perspective on Coal Jobs and Managing Labor Transition out of Coal: Key Issues and Policy Responses (World Bank) | In-depth assessment on how to facilitate labor market transitions in countries where (coal) mining is in decline, including a nice policy framework for managing labor transitions.


Applying Behavioral Science

A Behavioural Insights Toolkit for Entrepreneurship Programming (UNDP) | Useful step-by-step guide on how to apply behavioral insights to strengthen entrepreneurship programs (the process is also applicable to other employment related programs).

Leveraging Behavioral Science to Increase the Impact of Economic Inclusion Programming (ideas42 and World Bank) | Intuitive introduction how behavioral insights can be integrated into the diagnosis and programming for economic inclusion programming.

Behavioral Approaches to Address Gender Inequality in Economic Opportunity (World Bank) | Nice list of examples of behaviorally informed interventions to increase women’s participation in the labor force and women’s ownership and control over productive assets.

The Social Tax. Redistributive Pressure and Labor Supply (World Bank) | New evidence on how pressure to share income with others may disincentivize work, and what interventions can do about it.  A discussion of the paper is also available on this blog.



Global Job Quality. Evidence from Wage Employment across Developing Countries (World Bank) | Estimates of job quality in 40 developing countries based on four dimensions: sufficient income, access to employment benefits, job stability, and adequate working conditions.

Preparing for the (non-existent?) future of work (Brookings) | Thought-provoking paper on implications for welfare systems and labor market institutions if increasingly intelligent autonomous machines substitute human labor and drive down wages.

About the authors:

Kevin Hempel is the Founder and Managing Director of Prospera Consulting, a boutique consulting firm working towards stronger policies and programs to facilitate the labor market integration of disadvantaged groups. 

Helen Osborne is a youth employment specialist working with Asian Development Bank and other partners. 

Sara Johansson de Silva is an international consultant working on skills, labor and social protection. 

Rachel Blum specializes in youth-inclusive markets, youth employment, and workforce development.