NEW YORK (ILO News) – The head of the ILO Employment Sector, José-Manuel Salazar, has warned of the risks of a lost generation due to a growing youth employment crisis, and called for new and stronger partnerships to create more and better jobs for young people.
Having 75 million unemployed young people, more than 150 million young working poor and millions of young people not working or studying is a huge waste of human capital for societies, he said, adding that this lost generation also poses a risk to social cohesion.
Socially excluded youth are more likely to engage in risky behaviours including substance abuse, crime, violence, joining gangs, drug trafficking, and other threats to social cohesion and peace in the community, he said. He cited a recent study in Latin America that showed that being neither working nor studying is strongly associated with the risk of violence and crime.
Mr Salazar was addressing a special event organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York.
To paraphrase the visionary statement in the 1919 ILO constitution that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere, today we can say youth unemployment anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere, he said. The business community has a stake for all these reasons but there are also a number of business-specific reasons: young workers are good for business because they are the best hope to introduce new technologies and increase productivity in the workplace; high youth unemployment and underemployment around factory plants increase the cost of doing business.
Mr Salazar called for new partnership approaches, adding that the most successful initiatives depend on sophisticated collaboration and partnership between the private sector, government and civil society organizations and unique combinations of incentives, regulations, funding and leadership.
He suggested a number of concrete measures that business, trade unions and governments could take to create more and better jobs for young people including addressing skills mismatches, the promotion of government-sponsored apprenticeships and on-the-job training programmes, and facilitating access to start-up capital and investor networks.
Youth employment is as a top priority for the ILO this year and the main focus of the International Labour Conference in June. In the run-up to the Conference, the ILO is organizing events in some 45 countries during March to listen to and consult young people, and will host a major Youth Employment Forum in Geneva in May.
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