Developed countries with labour shortages ought to hire temporary, seasonal unskilled workers from neighbouring Pacific islands so those people can earn money and improve their families' prospects, the World Bank said today.
Paid, formal sector work is scarce on many of the Pacific island nations with persistently high population growth and young people numbering up to 40 per cent of the overall population in some countries, the World Bank said in a report entitled "At Home & Away."
"We know that lack of job opportunities can contribute to social and political instability in regions like the Pacific Islands," World Bank economist Manjula Luthria said in the report.
"This report shows that allowing some Pacific Islanders access to jobs currently unfilled in the larger economies of the region, could contribute significantly to the economic and social well being of the workers, their families and wider communities," Luthria said.
The report recommends countries set up pilot programmes for temporary workers akin to Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers programme with the Caribbean, which has helped revive once ailing rural economies across Canada.
Temporary migrant workers returning home each year to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands from Canada use their earnings to improve housing, nutrition, clothing and health care for their families, the report said.
Private sector labour demand should be the driving force behind the World Bank's proposed pilot programme, the report said, noting Australia's irrigated horticulture in the Murray Valley as a prime candidate for such a programme.
Fewer than 10 per cent of job seekers in some Pacific countries will find paid work at home. Projections in the report show that by 2015 about 270,000 people in the Solomon Islands and over 110,000 people in Vanuatu will not find jobs in the formal employment sector.
Remittances, or sending earnings home, improve income distribution as well as alleviate poverty, encourage savings and more spending on education, the report found.
The benefits from the liberalisation of the movement of labour may far outweigh the benefits from further trade liberalisation for some Pacific island economies, it added.