Toward Solutions for Youth Employment

October 13, 2015


Nadya at the 2014 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Photo: Grant Ellis / World Bank

October 13, 2015 – Six years ago, Meredith Denbow moved to Washington DC from her home, a mid-western agricultural community in Ohio, United States.

The job market for recent graduates is quite limited and the community provides few to none in terms of international careers,” says the 29-year-old communications professional, “For those who remain in more rural areas, they take whatever jobs they can find- most often- one or more part-time jobs at hourly rates,”

Denobow continues: “In smaller cities across the United States, staff are let go due to budget cuts and scaling back. Even basic health insurance is an item that is not always offered in new positions due to the cost burden on employers,”

Unemployment rates on the rise

Youth unemployment is on the rise, not only in the United States but globally. One third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are either unemployed or not partaking in any education or training. Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40 percent are expected to get jobs that currently exist.

The global economy will need to create 600 million jobs over the next 15 years – five million jobs each month -- simply to keep pace with projected youth employment rates.  19-year-old Nadya Rizkia, from Indonesia, describes how hard it is to bag a first job.

Most of the jobs I want require full-time commitment and I am a full-time student,” says the university student, “Many college students struggle to find a job after they graduate because they do not have the work experience they (companies) need,”

Looking for new solutions

A new study, Toward Solutions for Youth Employment: A 2015 Baseline Report, looks into new areas that can boost the chances of employment for young people around the world:

  • Digital Age Impact – the technological revolution is fundamentally changing work and relationships, but this shift is unevenly felt across the world.
  • Skills Gap – in order to fill the skills gap, opportunities for all, especially the most vulnerable, must be improved.
  • Quality Jobs – quantitative unemployment measurements do not reflect quality of employment and deeper understandings of today’s working conditions is required.
  • Entrepreneurship and self-employment – Young people are 1.6 times more likely than adults to display entrepreneurial activity and this can be encouraged.

Young people more inclined toward entrepreneurship

“I've recently brought an entrepreneurial initiative to DC called FUN. We invite three or four entrepreneurs every month to talk about their failures. This has caused me to be quite interested in starting my own company in the future.  The entrepreneurial scene in Washington, DC has established itself recently- specifically in tech and social innovation,” says Denbow.

The report notes that, of all the initiatives that governments, the private sector, and civil society implements to address youth employment, providing support to young entrepreneurs is the most effective. It’s something they could do more of because many young people just need a nudge in the right direction.

“I have not put much thought in becoming an entrepreneur only because I feel that I lack the qualities and skills needed,” says Rizkia, “Maybe if I had more confidence in myself, I would start my own business,”

Toward Solutions for Youth Employment: A 2015 Baseline Report is available here. It is produced by the Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) – a multistakeholder global coalition established to improve youth access to work opportunities. This coalition is a partnership started by the World Bank Group, Plan International, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), Youth Business International (YBI), RAND, Accenture, and the International Labour Organization (ILO).