Productive work for youth
- Youth unemployment is particularly troublesome in the developing world, but has also hit the developed world.
- When people do find jobs, they are often precarious and of poor quality.
- With its myriad causes, the problem must be attacked on myriad fronts.
- Entrepreneurs should receive support to start their own businesses and in turn to create employment opportunities.
Millions of young people run the risk of exclusion from the labour market and formal economic activity. Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than older people. The developing world is hit hardest, but the economic crisis has exacerbated the problem in developed countries too. The economic crisis also dictates revisiting the assumption that the public sector can pick up the slack by hiring.
There are several barriers to entry for youths in the job market, including:
- Lack of experience;
- Lack of adequate skills;
- Schooling that does not match the demands of the labour market;
- Psychological problems – people do not want to look for work or lack sufficient emotional intelligence for the workplace;
- Lack of self-confidence;
- Lack of knowledge about how to look for a job or seek advice;
- Lack of career options; and
- Negative attitudes of potential employers.
Another concern is the quality of work. Some 300 million youths are mired in poorly paid dead-end positions with little or no job stability, few benefits, and no on-the-job training. Increasingly, people can only find part-time work, symbolised by the United Kingdom’s ‘zero hours contracts’ where employees work on call.
How can policymakers address this problem? Several recommendations emerged from the high-level panel:
- Policy coherence – the European Union and Member States should try to ensure that their policies, including those for education and training, are all pulling in the same direction;
- Build training programmes to give young people skills that better match the needs of businesses;
- Encourage young entrepreneurs;
- Focus on new technologies, a realm that offers some of the best opportunities for educated young people;
- Civil society organisations should open their doors to young people so that they can become more involved in promoting democracy and social change;
- Make youth employment and quality jobs priorities in formulating post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals;
- Provide a safety net so that people can make and recover from mistakes – not just for entrepreneurs, but also for people who want retraining for different kinds of jobs;
- Create programmes to deliver training, education and job search support; and
- Encourage small and medium-sized enterprises, which are responsible for most new jobs.
The Austrian-based group SOS Children's Villages International works in 133 countries around the world to promote childcare, education and healthcare. It provides employment services for disadvantaged young people. By forging partnerships with private companies such as Deutsche Post DHL, it is able to place a large number of young people who otherwise might have few opportunities.
Individuals with an entrepreneurial bent should receive help to set up their own businesses or at least to become self-employed. The mindset should be to help start-ups become successful so that they can in turn create more jobs. In some societies, failure must be made more acceptable, to give entrepreneurs the motivation to get back up after being knocked down. Red tape and taxes should be reduced.
Successful models for entrepreneurial support include:
- JADE, the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises, which helps students work as consultants.
- HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE), which provides training and support for budding entrepreneurs in Tunisia, Brazil and elsewhere.
FirstName: FrancoiseFonction: Deputy Head of Unit, Human Development and Migration, Directorate-General for International Development and Cooperation, European CommissionLastName: Millecamyear: 2015, 2013Website:
Body: For the world's most vulnerable people, post-2015 must be a way to strike back.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1603
Body: We are in favour of universal coverage – we mustn't leave anyone behind.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1602
Body: Only 20 % of the world's population has any kind of social protection and 100 million people are living below the poverty line. These facts are drivers for us to change.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1601
Body: We need to make sure that wealth is being created and then redistributed, so we can fight inequalities in rich countries as well as poor countries.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1600
Body: We need to set up governance pillars at a local level, so we can have local and regional scale management, and so that in the long-run we can ensure national governance.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1599
Body: Youth unemployment issues are not just about unemployment itself but also about the quality of jobs: 73 million young people are unemployed around the world, but 300 million young people are in work that is very badly paid. So it’s not just jobs but decent jobs, jobs that pay a living wage and give people a minimum level of social protection and job security too.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker: 1593Nid: 1597
Body: New technologies are a major job creation machine, particularly for young people.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker: 1593Nid: 1596
Body: We need to make sure that education delivers 21st century skills such as creativity, collaboration, and technology – a critical enabler to a new type of world.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1590
Body: Young people need so much more than a diploma to land a decent job nowadays: you need self-confidence, social skills, experience and a network of contacts.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1589
Body: We want to build an entire entrepreneurial culture – not just creating businesses, but changing the mindset of a generation.Image:Quote Year: 2013Speaker:Nid: 1588
Employment & decent workBody:
Worldwide, some 200 million people are out of a job, among them 75 million young people. Furthermore, some 621 million young people are not in school or training, not employed and not looking for work, risking a permanent exclusion from the labour market. In a developing country context, however, the labour market is complex and ‘employment’ is difficult to define, since people often generate income from several different sources and activities, and wage employment is not the norm.
Labour markets in developing countries are highly segmented and very often – considering that social protection schemes are not generalised – people are obliged to generate income in any form possible, often working in vulnerable jobs and/or in the informal economy. For this reason, rather than unemployment, what matters for most people in developing countries is the quality of the job, including working hours, conditions, social protection provision, income, stability and voice:
- Worldwide, about three billion people are working, with around half in some kind of vulnerable employment, such as casual self-employment or as family workers on farms or in household enterprises.
- Almost 20 % of all workers in developing countries live in poor households (with an income below USD 1.25 per person). More than one-third of workers in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are poor.
- Informal employment is a structural feature of the economies in development countries, characterised by informal working arrangements, lack of adequate social protection (only about 20 % of the world's working-age population has access to comprehensive social protection). Young people and women are overrepresented in informal employment.
Employment and decent work for all, including young people, are key elements to reducing poverty, a fact reflected in their inclusion as a Millennium Development Goal target. Given that people most often move out of poverty due to an improved job situation, the strengthening of employment policies, efficient technical education and vocational training and improved social protection systems remain top EU development priorities.
Since the 2005 ‘European Consensus on Development’, which indicated employment as a key factor to achieve high levels of social cohesion, the EU adopted a number of key policies towards stronger and more coherent commitments to address employment and decent work for all.
In its 2011 Communication ‘An Agenda for Change’, the EU committed itself to inclusive growth and people’s ability to participate in and benefit from wealth and job creation. It stressed that it was critical for societies to offer a future to young people, resolving to increase support for vulnerable population groups to emerge from poverty. This included improving employability through quality education, providing the knowledge and skills necessary to become active members of society.
In its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU resolved to pursue its Rio+20 commitments on youth through Europe2020, its overarching strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It noted that the world is still far from reaching the target of full and productive employment and decent work for all and called for post-2015 framework goals to deliver on this aim.Image: