Theme: Industrial Policy, Employment Creation and the Middle-Income Trap
Speaker: Miriam Altman
Moderator: Zhang Yanbin, Associate Professor of SPPM
Date: Sunday, November 27th
Venue: Room 423, SPPM
Aligning industrial policy to employment and income distribution objectives is a challenge for middle-income countries. These economies need to raise productivity and move up the value chain. GDP growth rates tend to be lower relative to successful low-income economies. The pace of employment creation will therefore inevitably fall.
The emerging role of services industries is very poorly understood. Yet they account for the vast majority of jobs created. Economists are trained to focus on goods production as economic and employment drivers. We do not have the tools to understand a services economy.
Dr. Altman will address the reasons why services dominate employment creation, and the choices facing policy makers seeking to direct the composition of industrial growth. She will also consider the impact of this emerging world on wage inequality and the implications for social protection.
Dr. Altman will speak to the global context of her work in South Africa. High unemployment rates are common in middle-income African minerals economies. Yet the insights from her lecture will also resonate for policy makers concerned with significant labor market transitions, as in China.
Dr. Altman is a Commissioner on the National Planning Commission in the South African Presidency. This body guides long term planning for South Africa. She has played a leading role in shaping policy on employment, industrialization and social protection. Currently, she chairs a committee on infrastructure and state-owned entity delivery. In her private capacity, she advises governments and companies in their economic and commercial strategies.
From 2013 to April 2016, Dr. Altman was Chief of Strategy at Telkom, where she led its turnaround. Telkom is South Africa’s largest fixed-line telecommunications operator and a public-listed state-owned company.
As Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council from 2002 to 2013, she drove the “Employment Scenarios” program. This drew leaders from government, the private sector, labor and academia together over a period of years to define a vision and practical strategies to address extremely high unemployment in South Africa.
She has B.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from McGill University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester. Her publications can be found at www.miriamaltman.com.