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Three steps to curb youth unemployment

The right mix of education and training, promoting entrepreneurship and strengthening employment services is key to tackling the current youth employment crisis in many parts of the world, said Executive Director of the ILO’s Employment Sector, Mr José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.

Analysis | 15 May 2012
SHANGHAI (ILO News) – The head of the ILO’s Employment Sector highlighted three key steps that need to be taken to help an estimated 75 million unemployed youth worldwide.

First, success requires combining classroom with workplace training”, he said, giving successful examples of programmes combining practical training in a company with theoretical training in a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institution in countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark which have the lowest rates of youth unemployment in Europe.

Mr Salazar underlined that such a model was based on close collaboration between governments, employers, trade unions and training institutions. It can be adapted across very different economic and cultural circumstances to help young people overcome the work-inexperience trap.

The second success factor for job creation is integrating entrepreneurship in technical and vocational training”, said Mr Salazar. One key objective is to help students imagine starting their own business, which can also make technical training more attractive.

Third, employment services make the transition to work easier”, he said.

Access to good employment services has been shown to decrease the job search period, especially when employment services work directly with TVET institutions and employers.

“Increasing public investments in vocational education and training as well as apprenticeships without building up the capacity of public employment services is like building a road and stopping before constructing the bridge to the final destination…in this case to a good job”, he said.

Need for more coordination

Coordination between different government ministries, as well as public-private partnerships is essential to curb the current trends, Mr. Salazar said.

The simple truth is that investment flows and innovation thrives in places where the best talent resides. To be successful, growth and development strategies should be strongly based on human capital development”, he said.

Mr Salazar was speaking at the UNESCO Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) being held in Shanghai until 16 May.

Another key fact highlighted by Mr. Salazar is that skills development not only helps countries and workers overcome the impacts of the crisis but also prepare them to face the long term trends that are hitting the labour markets around the world such as demographic and technological changes, skill mismatch issues or the changing global competition for talent.

He mentioned successful experiences linking investments in education and training to the requirements of the economy in some Asian countries, including the Republic of Korea, Singapore as well as increasingly in China, SAR Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Countries face a clear choice: invest in education and training and public employment services now or bear the costs later from social strife and wasted potential as disillusioned youth become increasingly excluded from economic and social life”, concluded Mr. Salazar.