Youth Employment Programme

Up to the 1970s, most of the ILO’s youth-related work focused on the protection of young workers through the development and adoption of international labour standards. Later on, a wide range of initiatives were implemented, including the Action Programme on Youth Unemployment (1996–97) and the Action Programme to Combat Youth Marginalization and Unemployment (1998–99).

The Youth Employment Programme – YEP – was set up in 2005 to coordinate the ILO’s response to the global youth employment challenge. Its work has been guided by two global policy instruments adopted by the International Labour Conference (2005 and 2012 Resolutions concerning youth employment) which resolved that tackling youth employment required an integrated approach, one that combined supportive economic policies and targeted measures addressing labour demand and supply as well as the quantity and quality of employment. The advocated approach would foster pro-employment growth and decent job creation through economic policies, education and training, labour market policies, youth entrepreneurship and the respect of rights at work for young people.

Adhering to the conclusions of the above mentioned Resolutions, our services to constituents go along the employment policy cycle, from policy formulation to assessing the impact of youth employment interventions. Social dialogue and the enhancement of national capacities are central to our intervention model at the country level.

Our mission

Supporting action by governments, social partners and the multilateral system to address the youth employment challenge and promote decent work for youth at national, regional and global levels.

What we do

We operate in the following areas:

A. Knowledge development and dissemination

  • Collection and analysis of youth labour market data.
  • Research on emerging issues in youth employment.
  • Youth employment policy reviews.
  • Measuring the results of youth employment interventions, identifying what works for youth employment.
  • Dissemination of knowledge through databases, platforms and events.

B. Technical assistance and capacity building

  • Advisory services in relation to (i) mainstreaming youth employment into coherent and coordinated employment policies, strategies and plans, and (ii) formulating and assessing youth employment programmes.
  • Capacity building of ILO constituents and other relevant development stakeholders.
  • Production of policy guidelines, technical manuals and training modules.

C. Advocacy and partnerships

  • Awareness-raising activities on decent work for youth targeted to ILO constituents and other actors including young people and their representative bodies.
  • Networking with relevant think-thanks, and academic and training institutions.
  • Strategic partnerships on youth employment through the promotion of cross-country and global peer networks, inter-agency cooperation and collaboration between the private and public sectors at the international, regional and national levels.

How we work

The YEP operates through a network of specialists from different departments and units at the HQs and field offices of the ILO.

Located within the Employment Policy Department of the ILO in Geneva, the Youth Employment Programme Unit coordinates the above-listed activities and takes part in their implementation. It’s also entrusted to ensure coherence in ILO’s assistance in the employment area and to provide the necessary technical backing and quality control.

The comparative advantage of ILO’s work on youth employment lies in its proven ability to influence policy change by reaching out and involving different national actors – including youth representatives – through extended social dialogue and participatory practices. Using the relevant international and national channels, we listen to young women and men in order to understand their needs and aspirations and to devise appropriate solutions.

Over the years, we have built and consolidated relationships with a number of research and educational institutions, and we have also enjoyed the technical and financial support of other UN bodies, multilateral and bilateral agencies, regional institutions and some private companies.

Our activities are consistent with larger multi-stakeholder efforts like the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and the UN Inter-agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD).