A dangerous mix of high unemployment, precarious work as well as persistently high working poverty brings the risk of creating a ‘scarred’ generation of young people. The exploding youth employment crisis begins to attract increased political attention, including the next World Youth Report. What are the facts and trends? What are strategies for intervention? We investigate trends, initiatives, policies, media and statistics to find out more.
Across the globe, some 90 million young people are unemployed. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has spoken widely-shared words of warning, arguing that the
“dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world will leave behind a ‘scarred’ generation of young workers (source).”
The growing youth employment crisis, illustrated by selected ballpark figures from 2009 in the table at the end of this article, has been largely ignored. Since 2009, the situation has undoubtedly not changed to the better, but whether the intensity and quality of political attention and action will improve, remains to be seen.
In this context, the United Nations decided to focus the next World Youth Report primarily on youth employment. Complementary to the e-debate on youth unemployment organised by the UN Youth Unit in autumn 2011, we want to gather some of the key resources on youth employment, unemployment and employability here on youthpolicy.org. Feel free to add links to resources in the comments; we’ll regularly include them in updates of this article.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) regularly publishes the global employment trends for youth. The two latest versions were published in August 2010 and October 2011, respectively.
In 2010, the organisation observed that
“in developed economies, the crisis has led to the highest youth unemployment rates on record, while in developing economies - where 90 per cent of the world’s youth live - the crisis threatens to exacerbates the challenges of rampant decent work deficits, adding to the number of young people who find themselves stuck in working poverty (source).”
In 2011, the authors stated that
“the situation facing youth in the labour market has not improved and that prospects for the future are not much better (source).”
In the framework of the International Year of Youth, the UN developed a series of fact-sheets, including one on youth employment, authored by the International Labour Organization, which also developed its additional own factsheet on the topic.
Among the most prominent initiatives and networks dealing with youth unemployment are:
There are a range of documents and resources around youth employment policy interventions, among them:
The general context of national policy responses to the global phenomenon of youth unemployment is well described in:
Below are five examples of national policy responses across the globe, we’ll add to them as we go along:
The media coverage of youth unemployment seems to be intensifying. A few starting points include:
The data in the table below stems from the UN Portal for the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) Indicators, a good place to start looking for current quantitative data on youth unemployment. The International Labour Organization (ILO) lists further statistical resources.
All data from 2009, last updated July 7, 2011. Source of the data: United Nations site for the MDG Indicators. Note that the youth unemployment rate is the proportion of the youth labour force that is unemployed, whereas the second indicator shows the proportion of the total youth population that is unemployed - including all those that are not part of the youth labour force.
Photo credit: Steve Rhodes at Flickr.