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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of the factors and dynamics involved in the creation and formation of an industrial workforce in an agrarian-based economy. The main argument is that the process of building an industrial working class is uneven, protracted, and requires interventions and important economic and social shifts over long periods of time. Historical lessons of early and late industrializers are highly relevant for contemporary Ethiopia as it seems that history does repeat itself in some ways. The chapter focuses on a number of structural obstacles to the process of building an industrial workforce, particularly: addressing socio-cultural barriers and the problem of ‘work cultures’ and work ethic; sourcing workers, managing and especially housing migrant labour; scarcity of employable skills (including soft skills); mismatch in expectations between employers and workers, largely related to wage-setting mechanisms, non-wage conditions, and labour productivity.

Keywords: employment, industrialization, social change, industrial workforce, skills, industrial relations

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