This story was written by the ILO Newsroom For official ILO statements and speeches, please visit our “Statements and Speeches” section.

Youth employment

ILO Chief: Less austerity, more investment needed to tackle youth jobs crisis

Failing to act on the youth jobs crisis would sow the seeds of social unrest and destroy hopes for sustainable growth. That is a cost the world cannot afford, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said at a conference on youth employment in Budapest.

News | 11 January 2013
BUDAPEST (ILO News) – International Labour Organization (ILO) chief Guy Ryder has called for less austerity and more investments to promote a jobs recovery at a time when the youth employment crisis threatens to scar “the very fabric of our societies”.

Ryder stressed that  measures promoting youth employment should be shielded from austerity policies and that spending on such programmes should be increased.

“Investing in these measures is far less costly than dealing with the consequences through unemployment benefits, anti-social behaviour or a more permanent disconnect from the labour market,” the ILO Director-General told government, worker and employer representatives at a conference in Budapest.

“The higher the investment, the lower the youth unemployment rate,” he added.

Ryder pointed out that the global crisis took a bigger toll on youth than any other group.
  • Worldwide, nearly 75 million youth aged 15 to 24 are unemployed.
  • In Europe, 5.5 million youth are unemployed. That represents 22 per cent, more than double the rate for adults.
  • Long-term unemployment affects nearly 30 per cent of unemployed youth in Europe.
  • Some 14 million young people, or more than 15 per cent of European youth aged between 15 and 29, are NEETs - neither in education, employment or training. The number of NEETs has almost doubled over nearly two years.
“We cannot and should not let that happen before our very eyes," said Ryder. "It is time for action, for immediate and targeted action.”

Apprenticeships and other work-training programmes, government incentives for employers who hire young people, entrepreneurship, social enterprises and cooperatives, as well as public employment programmes can be part of the solution.

But isolated interventions are not enough to tackle the issue. Targeted measures, such as youth guarantees, are far more effective.

Ryder stressed that such packages of measures are affordable and that the costs of inactivity – allowing long-term unemployment to grow and NEETs to disconnect from society – would be far higher.

The ILO Director-General said the 2012 ILO Call for Action on youth employment was a very strong call to policy makers to respond to the youth employment crisis. The Call for Action is accompanied by a policy portfolio of possible and tested measures from around the world, that were debated and evaluated long and hard during the last International Labour Conference.

He also welcomed the package of measures proposed by the European Commission last December in Brussels to address youth unemployment.

 Ryder said the ILO will support and fully cooperate with the European Commission in the implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of different measures promoting youth employment at the European level.

He also highlighted ILO support for bipartite negotiations between European employers’ and workers’ organizations for a framework action plan on youth employment.

The ILO’s call for action

The International Labour Conference in June 2012 issued a call for action on youth employment, calling on governments and the social partners to:
  • Foster pro-employment growth and decent job creation through macroeconomic policies, employability, labour market policies, youth entrepreneurship and labour rights.
  • Promote macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improve access to finance and increase productive investment.
  • Adopt fiscally sustainable and targeted measures, such as countercyclical policies and demand-side interventions, public employment programmes, employment guarantee schemes, labour-intensive infrastructure programmes, wage and training subsidies. 
(Read the press release)