25 April 2012


The world is facing a worsening youth employment crisis, warns the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and over 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work, while more than 150 million young people are living on less than $1.25 a day. The ILO has warned of a “scarred” generation of young workers facing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world.
The most recent report from the ILO points to collective frustration among youth as being a contributing factor to the recent growth of protest movements around the world, as it becomes increasingly difficult for young people to find anything other than part-time and temporary work. The report adds that in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, over the past 20 years approximately one in four youth have been unemployed despite progress made in the education of girls and boys.

The report also cites difficult trends in Ireland, where the youth unemployment rate (which had risen from 9 per cent in 2007 to 27.5 per cent in 2010) could have been more than 19.3 percentage points higher if those who were either “hiding out” in the education system, or waiting at home for prospects to improve, were included in the analysis.

On the other hand, young people in low-income economies are trapped in a vicious cycle of working poverty. The high employment-to-population ratios of youth in the poorest regions mean the poor have no choice but work. “There are by far more young people around the world that are stuck in circumstances of working poverty than are without work or looking for work”, the report states.

The report also highlighted the fact that between 2008 and 2009, the number of unemployed youth increased by an unprecedented 4.5 million worldwide. (compared to the average increase of the pre-crisis period of less than 100,000 persons per year)

The youth employment crisis is a threat to social cohesion and political stability, and has profound consequences for education, migration policies and the right to fair working conditions.

Youth employment will be one of the main themes of the annual International Labour Conference scheduled to take place in Geneva in June.

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