G20 Joint Education and Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting

Invest in youth says ILO Director-General to the G20

Better skilling and decent work are needed to make sure that long COVID does not mean long-term marginalization of young people from the world of work, emphasized ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, in a speech to the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting in Catania, Italy.

Statement | 22 June 2021
Minister Bianchi, Minister Orlando,

It is a pleasure to be here today.

G20 Education and Employment Ministers last met in Mendoza three years ago. Even then the need to link education, employment and social policies was clear to us all.

Today, the devastating impact of COVID-19 has made the need for coordination imperative, which is why this meeting is so urgent.

The ILO’s estimates show that youth employment in G20 countries declined by 11 per cent in 2020 – almost four times more than for adults.

More than 70 per cent of young people who are studying or combining study with work have been affected by the closure of schools, universities and training centres. Nearly 85 per cent of apprentices and interns have experienced interruptions to their training.

And the impact on young women has been even greater.

The potential legacy of all this is frightening. This generation could be damaged for years to come, turning COVID-19 into a multi-generational crisis. We urgently need to take action to strengthen the school-to-work transition, with three reference points in mind.
  • Firstly, the destination: we need to ensure young people are able to find decent work when they complete their education and training. In this, broad-based support to the labour market is essential. This is where the demand side of the labour market comes in. It highlights the importance of employment-centred macroeconomic and sectoral policies in creating decent work opportunities.
  • Secondly, the path: skilling young people and developing the competencies that are in demand. This requires the involvement of the social partners, and young people themselves, in designing policies and programmes. Quality apprenticeships are more important than ever. Later this year, Ministers, our International Labour Conference will resume its meeting and discuss skills and lifelong learning. This means that education and employment are no longer consecutive events in the life cycle – they need to be interwoven throughout working life.
  • Thirdly, inclusiveness: last year, the G20 renewed its commitment to spare no effort to reduce the share of young people who are at risk of being permanently left behind. The G20 Youth Roadmap 2025 emphasises investment in employment services. Those services must target young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or lacking adequate skills.

It is for us to ensure that our post-pandemic world is a better one.

So we count on the G20 to invest in youth, to make sure that in economic and social terms, long COVID does not mean long-term marginalization of young people from the world of work.