Unemployment and underemployment among youth is a problem everywhere. It is, indeed, part of the larger strug- gle to create employment opportunities for all citizens. The problem has worsened in recent years because of the global recession which has affected developing countries the most seriously. The disturbing fact is that economic growth is not always accompanied by growth in employment. The diffi- culty of finding suitable employment is compounded by a host of other problems confronting young people, includ- ing illiteracy and insufficient training, and is worsened by periods of world economic slow-down and by overall chang- ing economic trends. In some countries, the influx of young people into the employment market has brought with it acute problems. According to estimates of the International Labour Organization, more than one hundred million new jobs would have to be created within the next twenty years in order to provide suitable employment for the growing number of young people in the economically active popu- lations of developing countries. The situation of girls and young women, as well as of young people with disabilities, refugee youth, displaced persons, street children, indige- nous youth, migrant youth and minorities, warrants urgent attention, bearing in mind the prohibition of forced labour and child labour.
The crisis of youth unemployment deprives young people of the opportunity to secure independent housing or the accommodations necessary for the establishment of families and participation in the life of society. Advances in
technology and communications, coupled with improved productivity, have imposed new challenges as well as new opportunities for employment. Young people are among the most severely affected by these developments. If effective solutions are not found, the cost to society will be much higher in the long run. Unemployment creates a wide range of social ills and young people are particularly susceptible to its damaging effects: the lack of skills, low self-esteem, marginalization, impoverishment and the wasting of an enormous human resource.
PROPOSALS FOR ACTION
■ 1. Opportunities for self-employment
Governments and organizations should create or promote grant schemes to provide seed money to encourage and support enterprise and employment programmes for young people. Businesses and enterprises could be encouraged to provide counterpart financial and technical support for such schemes. Cooperative schemes involving young people in production and marketing of goods and services could be considered. The formation of youth development banks could be considered. The Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives is encouraged to develop models for cooperatives run by youth in developed and developing countries. Such models could include guidelines for management training and training in entrepreneurial techniques and marketing.
■ 2. Employment opportunities for specific groups of young people
Within funds designated to promote youth employ- ment, Governments should, as appropriate, designate resources for programmes supporting the efforts of young women, young people with disabilities, youth returning from military service, migrant youth, refugee youth, displaced persons, street children and indigenous youth. Youth organizations and young people themselves should be directly involved in the planning and implementation of these programmes.
■ 3. Voluntary community services involving youth
Where they do not already exist, Governments should consider the establishment of voluntary service pro- grammes for youth. Such programmes could provide alternatives to military service, or might constitute a required element in educational curricula, depending on national policies and priorities. Youth camps, community service projects, environmental protec- tion and intergenerational cooperation programmes should be included among the opportunities offered. Youth organizations should be directly involved in designing, planning, implementing and evaluating such voluntary service programmes. In addition, inter- national cooperation programmes organized between youth organizations in developed and developing countries should be included to promote intercultural understanding and development training.
■ 4. Needs created by technological changes
Governments, in particular those of developed coun- tries, should encourage the creation of employment opportunities for young people in fields that are rapidly evolving as a result of technological innova- tion. A subset of the employment data compiled by Governments should track the employment of youth into those fields marked by newly emerging techno- logies. Measures should be taken to provide ongoing training for youth in this area.
Special attention should be paid to developing and disseminating approaches that promote flexibility in training systems and collaboration between training institutions and employers, especially for young people in high-technology industries.
Taken from the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY)