intro: youth unemployment has skyrocketed worldwide over the past decade to some 88 million, according to a new study by the International Labour Office (ILO), reaching an all time high with young people aged 15 to 24 now representing nearly half the world's jobless. While rapid globalisation and technological change offer new opportunities for productive work and incomes for the lucky few, for many working age young people these trends only increase the vulnerability inherent in the transition from childhood to adulthood:
ILO report: "Global Employment Trends for Youth 2004", a new analysis prepared by the ILO's Employment Strategy Department, found that while youth represent 25% of the working age population between the ages of 15 and 64, they made up as much as 47% of the total 186 million people out of work worldwide in 2003. But the problem goes far beyond the large number of young unemployed people: the report says that young people represent some 130 million of the world's 550 million working poor who work but are unable to lift themselves and their families above the equivalent of US$ 1 per day poverty line.
- over 500 million young people will enter the workforce within the next decade;
- over 88 million young people are unemployed. A much higher number are underemployed;
- the unemployment rate for young people is 2 to 3 times higher than for adults;
- in over a quarter of industrialised countries, young women’s unemployment rate is 20% higher than that for young men;
- the informal sector accounts for up to 93% of all jobs available to young people, wages in the informal sector are 44% lower than the formal economy, and protection and benefits are non-existent.
Tackling youth unemployment and the consequent vulnerabilities and feelings of exclusion would be a significant contribution to the global economy. According to the report, halving the world youth unemployment rate would add at least US$ 2.2 trillion to global GDP, equal to around 4% of the 2003 global GDP value. Furthermore, as the report points out, people who get a good start to working life are less likely to experience prolonged unemployment later.
what can be done? Youth idealism, drive and innovation will be the engine for economic growth and community development. There are not enough jobs in the public and private sectors to employ all young people. Youth are the drivers of change and innovation and must have access to the training, mentorship, credit, problem-solving and business development skills to be self-employed and to create employment for other youth. The overall challenge is to absorb the 514 million new entrants to world labour markets and to reduce working poverty by 2015. How?
- Promoting growth and job creation: no country can sustain growing unemployment rates in the long run, because diminishing demand will, at some point, limit economic growth. In addition, continued high rates of unemployment are a waste of human capital. The creation of decent work implies not only decreases in poverty but, at the same time, provides the essential precondition for future growth.
- Thinking about young people: reducing youth unemployment rates and utilising the high potential of young people avoids the creation of a huge cadre of frustrated, uneducated or unemployable young people, which could have a devastating impact on long-term development prospects. Among the actions to reach this goal: - giving employers financial incentives to hire youngsters, in particular young women and disabled youth; - working with local communities to identify needs and collaboratively set up technology centres; - providing training and micro-credit to youth.
environment: in relation to the natural resources and environment youth unemployment contribute to its continues degradation and destruction due to lack of appreciation, involvement and education as well. Looking at it from the lens of the poverty-environment nexus, it is clear that overcoming youth unemployment could significantly contributes to reduce ecosystems degradation.
There exist today various proven models of community-based sustainable livelihoods that can be the basis for setting up youth ‘eco-enterprises’. A few examples: - production and marketing of non-timber forest products in support of community-based forest management; - production and marketing of non-fish stocks products in support of community-based coastal resource management; - community-based ecotourism services; - production and marketing of recycled materials and organic compost produced through the operation of community-level materials recovery facilities and composting sites; - marketing and management of community-level off-grid renewable energy systems (solar, mini-hydro, others); - production and marketing of products of community-based sustainable organic agriculture and farming.