3.1       Barriers to mobility of labour

Geographical barriers

  • High cost of transfer from one location to another/ to alternative place of work.
  • Poor infrastructural development such as poor roads, poor housing facilities.
  • Political instability in the alternative places of work.
  • Apathy and conservativeness of certain groups of people. Some people prefer working in their birth places.
  • High cost of living in some places with alternative jobs.
  • Prospects of promotion at the current place of work.
  • Fear of the unknown at the alternative place of work.
  • Better wages offered at the current place of work.
  • Old age of the worker.
  • Social ties such as strong family attachment.
  • High discrimination in the labour market.
  • Permanent investment one has put in the current place of work. Many people prefer working in places where they have long-term/ permanent investment.
  • Government policy restricting labour movement.
  • Harsh climatic conditions in places with alternative jobs (such as very cold conditions, semi-arid conditions).

Occupational barriers

  • Inadequate information about existing/ alternative job opportunities.
  • High cost of training required for alternative /new job.
  • Long training period required for the new job.
  • Long and tedious procedures /formalities involved in acquiring new jobs (such as examinations, interviews, probation period).
  • Better/good working conditions at the current job such as job security.
  • Ignorance about alternative jobs elsewhere.
  • Professional associations limiting entry of workers in certain jobs.
  • Better/high level of wages paid in the current job.
  • Limited skills required for the new job.
  • High degree of specialization of labour in the current occupation/ high degree of specificity of a factor of production.
  • Social restrictions to a worker such as family, culture, religion.
  • Political instability in some areas of alternative jobs.
  • Poor health status of workers such as sickness, old age.
  • Prospects of promotion at the current occupation.
  • High discrimination in the labour market.

3.2       Advantages of labour mobility

  • Helps labour to earn more wages /higher wages due to looking for better jobs as they move since employers do not offer the same wages. This in turn leads to fairer distribution of income.
  • Results into greater productivity and efficiency of labour. Labour is able to acquire more skills through exposure. Labour is also able to move from one job or place where it is not fully utilized to a new environment where its productivity is higher.
  • Geographical mobility of labour is helpful in creating a sense of international community. As people from different countries work together, they become broad-minded and racial differences reduce/disappear.
  • Leads to high employment level/ minimizes unemployment and under employment. This is because the workers move from areas where opportunities are not readily available to places where job opportunities are available.
  • Through labour mobility a country is able to acquire more skilled labour from other countries.
  • Labour mobility discourages over exploitation of workers b under payment and poor working conditions because labour has the opportunity to move.
  • Labour mobility promotes competition in the labour market which promotes efficiency in the long run
  • Promotes balanced regional development by allowing exchange of ideas and skills.

3.3       Disadvantages of labour mobility

  • Encourages brain drain –leading to loss of skilled personnel to other countries and this negatively affects domestic production.
  • Labour mobility makes manpower planning difficult since labour keeps on moving from one occupation to another.
  • Frequent occupational mobility of labour undermines labour productivity. It does not allow the labourer to improve on skills and gain experience in a particular job since it keeps changing from one job to another.
  • Labor mobility makes it difficult for labour to organize itself into strong trade unions to advocate for more benefits since it keeps moving place to place or occupation to occupation.
  • Geographical and occupational labour mobility involve sometimes high monetary cost such as renting a new house, transfer of property, and transport to the new place of work.
  • Results into disintegration of social ties and opportunities. Social relationships in a given locality would facilitate enterprise but mobility disrupts this.
  • At times some labourers move to other places with the firm’s equipment which is a loss to the employer/ firm.

3.4       Policies to facilitate/ promote labour mobility

  • Provision of more training centres where workers learn new skills such as through short courses.
  • Encouraging on-job training to promote occupational mobility of labour. Labour is position to acquire new skills to take on new jobs.
  • Provision of adequate financial assistance during the period when labour is searching for a new job or undergoing training.
  • Government should ensure a (relatively) balanced wage system which encourages workers to take on jobs in any part of the country.
  • Ensuring balanced development of basic infrastructure such as roads to enable people to move from one place to another.
  • Availing more information about the existing jobs such as through the media (publicizing the existing job opportunities). The government should also embark on the creation of employment offices purposely for getting awareness of the existing jobs.
  • Government should ensure political stability in all parts of the country to promote geographical mobility of labour.
  • Encouraging and promoting education for all to widen the scope of skills for labour.
  • Using sensitization and incentives to firms in order to fight against discrimination in the labour market.
  • Government regulating the period of training for various courses.
  • Improving the health conditions of of workers
  • Improving the working conditions in various areas

3.5       Assignment:

Explain the advantages and disadvantages of labour immobility