UN World Youth Report

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Conclusions

Despite the global financial turmoil, and the huge concerns many young people have regarding their future job opportunities, many youth out there are makers – not breakers. This is evident on many social networking sites, such as Youth Partnership, One Young World Chad and Africa Youth Day 2011. While it is difficult to ascertain the level of impact, there is hope.

According to the majority of participants on the e-discussion platform, there is a growing swell of young entrepreneurs starting small businesses; some out of choice and others out of necessity. Maria from the Dominican Republic reminded us that youth “exposed to a higher level of education… are [more likely to be] better prepared to approach entrepreneurial activities than youth in the lower-income class.”

One such young entrepreneur is Awa from Cameroon, who shared with us his vision:

“I created a social enterprise in 2009, Impact Creators, and I have been delivering trainings on personal development in different institutes of higher learning. One of the recent programmes we want to implement is called Career Orientation and Development + Skills (CODES). The general objective of the programme is to train (coach) the students and young professionals on personal and professional development. Using the career development cycle, we have identified different training topics that will be developed and delivered, as we contribute to bridging the gap between school and the world of work. Impact Creator's SHINE (Share Information Network) platform will then serve as an interface between the beneficiaries and career-related scholarships, fellowships and job opportunities, inter alia, at the national and international levels.”

Having said this, times are very tough: participants expressed concerns over job insecurity, lack of engagement with policymakers, rising living and business costs, and paying off student debts – to name but a few.The clear message from young participants was this: job conditions for young people are difficult due to the economic crisis and, as Hasan from the Maldives said, “political chaos makes it hard for youth to be independent and live their dreams!”

Indeed, Juan Somavia, the International Labour Organization’s Director-General, reminded us at the beginning of this chapter: employment is the source of social inclusion in all sorts of ways, providing not just income, but security, self-realization and self-esteem. This decent work agenda has all sorts of wider implications for society. Its antithesis – a lack of meaningful job opportunities – is potentially very destructive; at both a personal and a societal level. Hence, a lack of decent jobs is currently contributing towards stagnation in the transition for young people from youth to adulthood. Having a decent job is one significant milestone towards enabling a young person to become an adult change agent and an active citizen in their community.

@netalejandro reminds us of the potential of young philanthropists and entrepreneurs, and leaves us with this thought:

“Just as business entrepreneurs create and transform whole industries, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value in different kinds of services or products.”

Excellent comment. It’s over to you now…

Additional resources:

International Labour Organization (2007). Toolkit for mainstreaming employment and decent work. Geneva: International Labour Organization

Network for Youth in Transitions: current resources on youth and livelihoods

Road to Rio plus 20: global youth mobilization initiative working towards the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012, Rio+20.

The 5th Global YES Summit (Rework the World): focus on youth entrepreneurship

van der Geest, Kees (2010). Rural youth employment in developing countries: a global view. Rural Employment - Overview/Synthesis, #1 (March). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Youth Business International (2011). Youth entrepreneurship: closing the gap. London: Youth Business International

YouthSave Consortium:sharing lessons and resources on delivering youth savings services

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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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