Earlier this year, the World Bank launched its new JobsKnowledge platform—a portal that brings together leading ideas and innovations in the field of emerging-market job creation. This month the Bank took another bold step forward, working with McKinsey and Microsoft Research to create a first-ever short film that showcases leading tech solutions to unemployment. Released in mid-October, it opens by asking the crucial question, “Can technology be used to expand job opportunities in developing countries?”, before highlighting how Souktel and other tech ventures are proving that the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Shot partly on location in Ramallah, Palestine, the video gives a first-hand look at Souktel’s mobile phone JobMatch service—and local job-seekers like Shadi Sader and Mohammad Taha who have used the platform to find work. The film also features commentary from Darin Zeidan of Souktel partner organization the Education for Employment Foundation, as well as interviews with top executives from Microsoft Research and online work hubs oDesk and Samasource.
“Technology is fundamentally reshaping both how workers find jobs and how employers find workers,” says Susan Lund, director at the McKinsey Global Institute, near the film’s beginning, “and it’s changing how people get the skills and credentials they need to compete in the global labour market.”
Souktel’s CEO Jacob Korenblum agrees: “In the past, there were very few reliable ways for young people—in Palestine or in almost any emerging market—to find out where jobs were located. Government resources were, and still are, very limited. Schools and universities face similar constraints; in the West Bank, there are virtually no on-campus job centers at local colleges”.
Today, however, “the massive growth in global cell phone ownership has created a rapid, low-cost channel for communication. We’ve leveraged this channel to provide real-time job information to workers—right on their mobile handsets,” Korenblum adds.
Now that innovations like mobile job ads and remote work centers are proving their worth, the film closes by suggesting that scale-up is the next step: “With 90-plus percent of the world living under a [mobile] signal…the trick is to unleash this innovation potential in as broad a community as possible,” concludes Jonathan Donner of Microsoft Research.
Watch the full World Bank video here.