There are more than 700 million young people in Asia Pacific, an incredible source of energy and creativity. But while only 20 per cent of the region’s workers are aged between 15 and 24, these young people account for almost half the Asia Pacific's jobless. Without sufficient numbers of new, decent employment opportunities the social and economic growth potential of the region will be compromised.
For those young people who do have jobs (about 300 million), the issue is one of quality. Many young men and women simply cannot afford to be unemployed and are obliged to take up jobs with poor pay, poor conditions and poor prospects. Without decent work, young people struggle to maintain dignity, build a family and invest in their future.
The youth employment challenge is complex and closely intertwined with economic development, child labour, rural livelihoods, urban and trans-border migration, gender, poverty and vulnerability. The tools for addressing the challenge are similarly diverse – education, training, skills development, social protection, self-employment and entrepreneurship, language and technology. The ILO takes a broad approach to the youth employment challenge, targeting children, young people and adults.
Finding decent work early in life avoids a vicious cycle of diminished prospects, poverty and social exclusion. Improving youth employment opportunities for individual young people will improve the economic, political and social future of the entire region.