UN World Youth Report



In general terms, the comments shared by participants in the e-discussion on youth employment confirmed what is stated in various reports on the topic; young people are facing various employment challenges, reflected in insecure employment, high unemployment and other measures. Youth are broadly concerned that there are too few opportunities for decent work.

They are worried about the prevalence of unemployment, inadequate and falling salaries and poor working conditions; poor quality education, lack of skills, and skills ill-adapted to labour market needs; gender and other inequalities; the risks and benefits associated with labour migration; independence and the fulfilment of aspirations for marriage and parenthood; and governmental support for improving the situation of youth employment.

One particular aspect of young people’s contributions to the e-discussion can be linked to recent social and political movements across the world: the hopelessness of youth regarding what they perceive as their countries’ lack of prioritization of their concerns as well as institutional capacity to address them. Young people shared the sense that they have been left to fend for themselves. This was clearly described by Bob, 24, from Sierra Leone:

“The reason for the unemployment of young people in any nation is the fact that they are not prioritized by their Government. Youth are to be seen as leaders of today in any nation for [it…] to be able to fully address the issues of development and unemployment. But instead, … [they have] always been referred to 'As the future leaders of tomorrow'. With this, youths will not be able to fully participate in designing programmes to address the unemployment rates in their countries. …The solution to this problem will only be the young people themselves, because they know their problems and, if allowed to discuss them frankly in the presence of those concerned, society will appreciate them and look out for adequate solutions...”

Participants expressed considerable frustration and, in some cases, detachment from the labour market and a loss of hope. Among the youngest of all participants, Mridula, a 16-year-old girl from India, was pessimistic about her future opportunities:

“…I'm a high school student and hence, do not need a job right now. However, I cannot close my eyes and let an issue of this magnitude go unnoticed. The youth of a country are its future. What is the use of education if we are not given a chance to put our knowledge and skills into work? I have to admit that India is one of the countries in which the youth, even those with good degrees, are unemployed. They are not given a chance to start working because employers prefer experienced men. How are we supposed to gain experience if we are not even presented with an opportunity to start working?”

Finding and motivating young people who have given up hope for a productive future is an expensive venture. Nonetheless, when the social, economic and potential political costs are considered, the alternative of doing nothing is even more expensive.


- United Nations, Department of Economic Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development. Youth resources and publications.

- Youthpolicy.org. Employment. http://www.youthpolicy.org/youthwork/ | http://www.youthpolicy.org/active/ | http://www.youthpolicy.org/themes/

- Network for Youth in Transitions. Employment.

- Outcomes of the Hungarian Presidency European Union Youth Conference on youth employment; Budapest, 2-4 March 2011.

- Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

- International Labour Organization. Decent work for Africa’s youth.

Additional Resources:

Coy, Peter (2011). The youth unemployment bomb. Bloomberg Businessweek, 2 February.

Garcia, Marito and Jean Fares, Eds. (2008). Youth in Africa’s labour market. Directions in Development – Human Development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Ha, Byung-jin, Caroline McInerney, Steven Tobin and Raymond Torres (2010). Youth employment in crisis. Discussion Paper, No. 201. Geneva: International Labour Organization, International Institute for Labour Studies.

InterAction (2011). Monday Developments Magazine, vol. 29, No. 8 (August)

International Labour Organization (2011). Global Wage Report 2010/2011: Wage policies in times of crisis. Geneva: International Labour Office.

International Labour Organization (2011). Growth, employment and decent work in the least developed countries. Report of the International Labour Office for the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries, Istanbul, 9-13 May 2011.

Matsumoto, Makiko and Sara Elder (2010). Characterizing the school-to-work transitions of young men and women: Evidence from the ILO school-to-work transition surveys.  Employment Working Paper, No. 51 (June). Geneva: International Labour Office.

United Nation, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (2010).

Youth development in the ESCWA region: statistical profiles, national strategies and success. 14 April.

World Bank (2008). The economic participation of adolescent girls and young women: why does it matter? Washington, D.C.: World Bank.


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The UN Focal Point on Youth aims to build awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations, working toward greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means for achieving peace and development.

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