Addressing the Youth Employment Crisis Needs Urgent Global Action

October 13, 2015

In the coming decades, global growth will depend on today’s young people. Combatting the persistent youth employment crisis requires a global effort and proactive action: report

WASHINGTON, October 13, 2015 – One third of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are currently neither in employment, 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 be able to get jobs that currently exist. The global economy will need to create 600 million jobs over the next 10 years – five million jobs each month -- simply to keep pace with projected youth employment rates. Reversing the youth employment crisis is a pressing global priority and the socio-economic cost of inaction is high, says a new report.

This inaugural report, entitled Toward Solutions for Youth Employment: A 2015 Baseline Report, is being released today by 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).

“Young people account for 40 percent of the world’s population – the largest youth generation in human history – but they are disproportionately affected by unemployment. This is a persistent problem. Approximately 30 percent of young people are not in employment, training or education, and around the world, young women are worse off. We need to act now, and we need to act together if we are going to realize the significant opportunities presented by this many young people today,” said Matt Hobson, S4YE Coalition Manager.

While circumstances differ in various regions, the report adds, the issues remain the same – the world’s youth are unable to find sustainable productive work. This contributes to inequality, spurs social tension, and poses a risk to present and future national and global prosperity and security.

This report provides a baseline of trends, identifies constraints, and provides potential solutions to the youth employment crisis based on knowledge of successful and promising programs. It also highlights specific population —young women, youth in conflict-affected and fragile states, as well as rural and urban youth— that requires dedicated attention.

“Global youth unemployment is a growing global challenge. When young workers are not able to connect to the labor market, it profoundly impacts their ability to participate fully in the economy, and threatens their social and economic future,” said John Irons, Managing Director at The Rockefeller Foundation and S4YE Board Member. “At The Rockefeller Foundation, we share S4YE’s view that working with employers is key to opening more job opportunities for youth, creating better matches for employers and young workers, and making sure that young people have the support they need to succeed. By expanding access to labor market opportunities for youth and helping companies derive value from hiring from diverse pools of youth talent, we see the potential to not only address youth unemployment at scale—but to build more inclusive economies.

“The report shows that young people are by inclination more entrepreneurial than adults - and we now know that of all the interventions governments, private sector and civil society implement to address youth employment, providing support to early entrepreneurs is the most effective,” said Hobson. “The good news is that experience and evidence increasingly indicate that we already have some of the policy and program responses in our arsenal to tackle youth employment now.”

A great deal of progress has been made in recent years toward understanding the complexities of youth employment and how to promote it. To improve the chances for young people around the world, the Coalition will prioritize focusing on four frontier areas to support opportunities for young people:

  • 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 men, women, and those at the lowest end of the spectrum needs to improve. 
  • Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment – worldwide, youth are 1.6 times more likely than adults to display entrepreneurial activity, which needs to be bolstered.
  • Quality Jobs – quantitative unemployment measurements do not reflect quality of employment and deeper understandings of today’s working conditions is required.

Today’s youth will not be able to escape poverty by 2030 if they do not have a means of employment, says the report. New targets related to youth employment in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect this recognition and desire for change. The report helps track the SDGs by providing a baseline against which to measure progress.

Success, sustainability, and scale in reaching full youth employment will not be possible without collaboration involving government and public insitutions at all levels, says the report. The Solutions for Youth Employment coalition is committed to seeing 150 million more youth at work. It envisions a world where an empowered and employed young generation drives global prosperity. To this end, it aims to link by fostering global coordination, learn by collecting and using evidenced-based knowledge, and leverage by using resources to scale-up proven solutions.

Download the full report

Download the report overview

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Media Contacts
In Washington
Mohamad Al-Arief
Tel : +1-202-458-0119
Rama George-Alleyne
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