Young people are estimated to account for over 35 per cent of the unemployed population worldwide in 2017. While the global youth unemployment rate stabilized at 13.0 per cent in 2016, it is expected to rise slightly to 13.1 per cent this year, according to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017 report.
The youth employment challenge is not just about job creation, but also – even more so – about the quality of work and decent jobs for youth.
“Addressing persistent labour market and social challenges faced by young women and men is crucial, not only for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth but also for the future of work and societal cohesion,” said Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy.
Young people often start their working lives in temporary employment with the knowledge that they may never attain ‘job security’. They are more likely to transition to stable and satisfactory employment in developed and emerging economies than in developing countries. Further investments in quality education and skills development are critical since the longer a young person studies, the shorter the transition time into employment, the report shows.
Youth are relatively more fluent in technology than older workers and are increasingly harnessing it to make a living, though there are differences across regions depending on the rate of digital diffusion and access.
A growing number of young job seekers and young entrepreneurs are taking to the internet – i.e. the platform and gig economies – where they find new and diverse forms of employment, such as crowd work, which can offer flexibility and expand income earning opportunities. There are however important risks, including low incomes, no guarantee of any continuity in employment or income, and lack of access to work-related benefits.
The report calls for policies that take into account the fast changing contours of the world of work driven by technology and that enable young women and men to be ahead of the curve. “Investing in lifelong learning mechanisms, digital skills, and sectoral strategies that expand decent jobs and address the vulnerabilities of the most disadvantaged should be prioritized in national policies,” said Azita Berar Awad, Director of the ILO’s Employment Policy Department .