Thursday, May 24, 2012

The world is not our oyster

In our focus on the unemployment crisis in New York City, it's easy to forget that young people everywhere face tremendous challenges accessing the labor market.  But a new study by the Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that young New Yorkers are not alone:

  • Globally, one in eight young people will be unemployed this year. That adds up to 75 million jobless youths between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • The worldwide youth unemployment rate has risen by six percent since 2007, at the start of the Great Recession, to reach 12.7 percent this year.  This rate is not expected to improve in the next four years given current economic projections.
  • Youth unemployment is worst in the Middle East and North Africa, where one in four youths are unemployed. Young people have the best chance of finding a job in South Asia, where just one in 12 youths are unemployed.
  • The recession has hit young people in rich countries the hardest, with the number of unemployed youths in wealthy countries spiking 27 percent between 2008 and 2011.  The youth unemployment rate has reached a staggering 51 percent in Greece and in Spain, two of the countries most affected by the austerity mandates of the Eurozone.
  • Many young people who are employed find themselves stuck in temporary, part-time, or low-productivity work, which diminishes their earnings prospects. About 30 percent of European youths are trapped in part-time jobs, according to the report.  (In the United States, a recent Rutgers study revealed (PDF), half of all recent college graduates in the U.S. lack a full-time job, and nearly half of the recent college graduates that are employed are working in jobs that don't require a college degree.  Many recent graduates find themselves forced into multiple part-time jobs to avoid defaulting on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt accrued for degrees that have not led to employment.)

The ILO calls on governments to take a number of actions to improve the outlook for young adults:

  • Macroeconomic and growth policies: where fiscally feasible, it is crucial to maintain or enhance measures that can help boost employment generation and jump-start a sustainable jobs recovery. Youth employment is a rising priority in national policy agendas but often it is not sufficiently translated into scaled up programmes, funding is often limited and resources underestimated.
  • Active labour market policies and programmes: active labour market measures such as development of public employment services, wage and training subsidies or tax cuts can motivate employers to hire young people as well as to counteract the excess supply of young workers in times of crisis. Equally important are programmes that aim to offset the mismatch of technical skills among youth, such as vocational training programmes, re-training of unemployed or discouraged youth, workplace training schemes, the creation or improvement of apprenticeship systems, entrepreneurship training programmes, soft and life skills training programmes for disadvantaged youth.
  • Better strategies are needed to improve social protection for young people, and to tailor labour market reforms for their specific needs. Decent employment is not only about generating any jobs, but also about improving the quality of jobs.
  • Social dialogue and partnerships for youth employment: the establishment of broad-based partnerships to turn commitment to youth employment into reality. Partnerships among governments, employers’ organizations, trade unions and other organizations can be instrumental in determining the most appropriate action to be taken at national and local levels for the promotion of decent work for young people.
  • Supporting strong labour market information and analysis systems which provide the basis to monitor labour markets and design and implement effective policies.

Please check out our Strategic Plan and Logic Model for more information on how JobsFirst NYC is promoting similar solutions at the local, regional and national level.

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