The Lab is a global initiative that tests, scales and shares strategies to maximise the impact of market systems development interventions on decent work.
It generated practitioner knowledge about how market systems development can maximise labour market impacts and how employment-related results can be monitored and measured. It worked to institutionalise a market systems approach to decent work into the ILO.
See also The Lab's successor - the Systems Change Initiative (SCI) profile
Market systems focus
The Lab has worked directly or supported analysis in the following sectors and countries:
- Agri-business: Dominican Republic, Peru, Rwanda, Zambia, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, India, Mozambique, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar
- Tourism: Mexico, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Myanmar
- Construction: Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda
- Retail/Garments: Asia (regional), Rwanda
- Wooden Furniture: Peru
Knowledge production and dissemination
Generate manuals, a working conditions measurement toolkit and other knowledge products on proven business models and market analysis methodology to disseminate among practitioners and policy-makers (see following section).
Institutionalise the approach
The Lab worked to mainstream a systems approach to more and better jobs in two ways, principally:
- to support the ILO to embed a more systemic approach in the way it addresses decent work
- to help MSD practitioners and donors better identify decent work challenges and then design and run interventions that can address them
Technical support for projects
Carry out market research and analyses, support interventions and action research to address decent work deficits and enhance results measurement capacity.
Over 80 publications taking the form of guidance, briefs, sector selection, market systems analyses, project evaluations.
Codifying good practice into guidance
The Lab has worked to both support and learn from field projects as a means of creating knowledge and codifying it into practical guidance. The guidance covers a range of thematic areas including:
- General guidance on a systems approach for more and better jobs: A quick snapshot of the approach, a full-length guide, a guide on how to conduct a market systems analyses, and guidance and a simulation game on market facilitation.
- Guidance and lessons for specific thematic areas including: the environment, rules and regulations, informality, childcare, child labour, youth employment, reaching lower tiers in supply chains.
- Guidance on business models: Business models for decent work (short and long version) and an action toolkit on COVID-19 recovery.
- Guidance on results measurement: a toolkit on measuring job quality and SME performance, a how-to guide on measuring productive employment.
- Guidance for navigating systems projects in specific sectors: tourism and construction.
Technical support provided
The Lab has supported more than half of the ILO’s portfolio of value chain development projects as well as businesses, other multi-laterals, NGOs and projects. This has included supporting:
- Market analyses
Sector selection, rapid market assessments and market systems analyses and/or project design for four operating market systems development projects: Road to Jobs (Afghanistan), MozTrabalha (Mozambique), Yapasa (Zambia) and Promoting Decent Work in Rwanda’s Informal Economy - projects collectively valued at USD 30 million.
A look at sustainability from the EnterGrowth project in Sri Lanka, 10 years after it finished. Two retrospective “investigations” into mature MSD projects in Zambia and Afghanistan. Learning from horticulture outgrowers in Timor-Leste and the impact of IFC investment into rice export on workers in Cambodia. The Lab’s final independent evaluation conducted by the Springfield Centre.
- Market solutions
Action research to improve working conditions in Peru’s wooden furniture sector, catalysing public investment in workplace safety schemes which will potentially cover over 13,000 workers in 3,600 (primarily micro-) enterprises.
- Monitoring and Results Measurement (MRM)
The delivery of technical assistance to develop and review MRM systems in line with the DCED Standard for ILO projects in Zambia, Nepal, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Rwanda.
ILO´s SCORE programme (India) to pass the DCED Results Measurement Standard audit and supported the ILO´s “Yapasa” (Zambia) and Road to Jobs (Afghanistan) to complete pre-audits.
[Updated Jan. 2021. Programme ended in Dec. 2020]