World Youth: No Jobs, No Education; Big Frustration, Scare

Human Wrongs Watch

New York – 6 February – A lack of job opportunities, inadequate education, vulnerable working conditions and insufficient government investment are some of the main concerns of young people around the world, according to a United Nations report on youth published today.

Credit:United Nations

The latest World Youth Report, released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), for the first time included inputs from young people – with many participating in an online discussion on youth employment.

For almost one month, young people from the ages of 15 to 30 took part in an online consultation organized by DESA to share their views, experiences and recommendations on preparing for, entering and remaining active in the working force. Their contributions are the main subject of the report.

A main concern in the discussions was that current education systems are not preparing young people adequately to compete in the job market.

Young people questioned the quality of education they and their peers receive: whether or not it is relevant to available jobs, how their knowledge and skills will serve them in the long-term, and the extent to which decision-makers are committed to needed investment in the potential of young people,” the report said.

Education, Overly Theoretical

Youth were especially worried that the education they received was overly theoretical, leaving them to acquire practical skills on their own. “Today it should be easier to find a job because our generation is the most educated but there is an inadequacy between the training offered and the needs of the labour market,” said Amadou, a Senegalese 24-year-old who participated.

Many also expressed concern about their governments not doing enough to help them overcome unemployment, stressing that without a lack of opportunities, they cannot apply their skills. “What is the use of education if we are not given a chance to put our knowledge and skills into work?” asked Mridula, a 16-year old from India.

Hard Transition from School to Labor Market

Since the start of the global economic crisis, young people have faced particularly hard conditions when trying to transition from schools to the labour market. In the aftermath of the economic crisis in 2009, global youth unemployment rate saw its largest annual increase on record, resulting in some 75.8 million unemployed youth.

Joblessness rates among youth are also significantly higher than adult ones. In 2010, for example, the youth unemployment rate was 12.6 per cent, compared to 4.8 per cent for adults.

Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report’s introduction. “They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life. We need to pull the UN system together like never before to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth. Let us start with young people.”

Unstable Working Conditions

The report also reveals that even after finding work young people face unstable conditions, as they are often the last to be hired and the first to be dismissed. It also noted that young women face greater challenges than their male counterparts when accessing jobs, with many having to work part time or in lower-paid occupations.

Despite the many obstacles they described, young people were hopeful and optimistic that they would be able to not only find jobs, but also make significant contributions to their society. The report shows that they are placing more and more importance in creating their own opportunities and becoming entrepreneurs rather than being employed by large companies.

The report also showed that youth are looking to innovate in areas that are growing such as green technologies and communications.

Climate Change, Social Equity

Young people are, in general, more conscious of global issues like climate change and social equity. I think that promotion of green economies among youth is a winning solution,” said Michael, a 23-year-old who is a member of the World Esperanto Youth Organization.

Some 1,100 contributions, as well as photos and videos, were received from young people around the world during the four-week consultation period.

The discussions were conducted mainly in the English language, but participants were also invited to post comments in the French and Spanish languages. Many posts were translated on a volunteer basis, and Google Translate was also made available on the platform.

DESA noted that extensive outreach efforts were made to reach as many young people as possible, paying attention to geographic, age, gender and other considerations.

However, it noted that the report only reflects the opinions of youth who have access to the Internet, stressing the need to widen consultations to reach those without online access.

World’s youth facing worsening jobs crisis, new UN report says

Youth Jobs Global Crisis

On 19 October 2011, a new report by the UN labour agency warned of a youth jobs crisis in both developed and developing countries, with young people aged 15 to 24 finding it increasingly difficult to obtain decent employment and future prospects are dim.

As it released its “Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update,” the International Labour Organization (ILO) noted that the recent global economic crisis led to a “substantial” increase in youth unemployment rates, reversing earlier favourable trends over the past decade.

Frustration, Anger

These new statistics reflect the frustration and anger that millions of youth around the world are feeling.

At the peak of the crisis period in 2009, the global youth unemployment rate saw its largest annual increase on record, rising from 11.8 per cent to 12.7 per cent between 2008 and 2009 – an unprecedented increase of 4.5 million unemployed youth worldwide.

The average increase of the pre-crisis period (1997-2007) was less than 100,000 persons per year.

The report says the absolute number of unemployed youth fell slightly since its peak in 2009 – from 75.8 million to 75.1 million in late 2010, a drop of 12.7 per cent – and is expected to decline to 74.6 million in 2011, or 12.6 per cent.

However, this is due more to youth withdrawing from the labour market, rather than finding jobs. This is especially true in the developed economies and the European Union region.

A “Scarred” Generation

The agency warns of a “scarred” generation of young workers and growing frustration amid millions of youth worldwide who are facing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work.

If youth unemployment were examined alone, states the report, one might wrongly guess that young people in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are doing well compared to the developed economies, when in fact the high employment-to-population ratios of youth in the poorest regions mean the poor have no choice but work.

There are by far more young people around the world that are stuck in circumstances of working poverty than are without work or looking for work,” the report points out.

It also notes that the collective frustration among youth has been a contributing factor to protest movements around the world this year, as it becomes increasingly difficult for young people to find anything other than part-time and temporary work.

Social Hazards

It adds that the “bad luck of the generation entering the labour market in the years of the Great Recession brings not only current discomfort from unemployment, under-employment and the stress of social hazards associated with joblessness and prolonged inactivity, but also possible longer-term consequences in terms of lower future wages and distrust of the political and economic system.”

These new statistics reflect the frustration and anger that millions of youth around the world are feeling,” said José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Director of the ILO Employment Sector.

He noted that governments are struggling to find innovative solutions through labour market interventions such as addressing skills mismatches, job search support, entrepreneurship training and subsidies to hiring.

These measures can make a difference, but ultimately more jobs must come from measures beyond the labour market that aim to remove obstacles to growth recovery such as accelerating the repair of the financial system, bank restructuring and recapitalization to re-launch credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises, and real progress in global demand rebalancing,” he said.

The report offers a series of policy measures for promoting youth employment, including developing an integrated strategy for growth and job creation with a focus on young people as well as improving the quality of jobs and investing in the quality of education and training.

Perhaps most important of all, according to the report, is to pursue financial and macroeconomic policies that aim to remove obstacles to economic recovery.


Read also:

Record Increase of Unemployed Youth–Additional 4.5 Millions Worldwide in One Year

A Lost Generation Also in Rich, Industrialised Countries

The Lost Arab Generation

Financial Trafficking in Millions of Citizens Is Not ‘Illicit’!

Europeans, the Once Upon a Time Refugees!

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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