Tailored skills training needed as global youth unemployment rates rise

Youth Skills

Tailored skills training needed as global youth unemployment rates rise

Creative solutions will help solve high rates of global youth unemployment. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps.

Preparing youth for jobs will look different in Sweden than in Swaziland. But with almost 73 million youth unemployed around the globe, strategies to reverse the trend are in demand everywhere.

And in developing economies, where 90 percent of the global youth population lives, two-thirds are underemployed.

According to a recent International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Report on Global Employment Trends for Youth released May 8, the global youth unemployment rate is projected to reach almost 13 percent in 2013. This rate is nearly the same as it was at the height of the 2008 economic crisis.

Based on current projections, the global unemployment rate is not expected to decline before 2018.

In fact, the current youth unemployment crisis is actually worse than the ILO report suggests, because long-term unemployment is growing. Temporary, part-time and insecure jobs are similarly affected.

“The long-term consequences of persistently high youth unemployment include the loss of valuable work experience and the erosion of occupational skills,” commented Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO’s Assistant Director-General for Policy.

Reversing youth unemployment

Addressing youth unemployment will require a wide range of tactics and strategies tailored to both developed and developing economies.

The ILO report suggests that in developed economies, measures should be taken that include education and training, work experience support and recruitment incentives for employers.

Youth employment guarantees in the EU, which provide skills training, work experience, job-search support and/or job placement, have boosted youth employment rates. Under these employment guarantees, member states will ensure that measures are put in place to ensure that young people up to the age of 25 will be offered employment, continuing education and/or an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed.

A 2011 study in Sweden showed that unemployed youth who accessed employment guarantees were able to secured employment faster than those who did not access the guarantees. And in 2010 in Austria, 63 percent of young people found jobs within a year of their participating in similar programs.

Apprenticeships have also addressed mismatched skills and jobs needs, and have promoted efficient transitions from schools and universities to long-term employment. The most successful linkages have been those characterized by collaboration between public policy advocates, entrepreneurs, social partners, training providers and young people themselves.

In developing countries, on the other hand, strategies are to include teaching literacy, promotion of secondary education and entrepreneurial skills.

For those working in subsistence jobs in informal developing economies, the ILO is also calling for provisions that make accessing credit and non-financial services and markets easier. Providing access to microloans and savings could mean the difference between the success and failure of struggling small-businesses around the world.

“There is no one-size-fits all solution but young people the world over share the same motivation -- to find a decent job so they can support themselves and their families. They are the engine of innovation and growth for the future but they are in urgent need of a "jump start" from the right kind of policy mix,” Salazar-Xirinachs commented.

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