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

Youth employment

Ban Ki-moon: Decent jobs for youth are essential to the future we want

UN Secretary-General calls on governments to invest more in youth employment initiatives.

News | 18 June 2014

Interactive dialogue on youth employment with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
GENEVA (ILO News) – Youth unemployment is an “epidemic” that represents “a great test of our time,” said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, during a visit to the International Labour Organization.

“In countries rich and poor, unemployment rates for young people are many times those of adults – and of course joblessness is the tip of the iceberg,” said Ban during an ILO event on youth employment. “Many are stuck in low wage work with no protection in the informal economy. Many others find that their schooling has not equipped them with the tools for today’s job market.”

In his welcome address, ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, thanked the Secretary-General for coming to the ILO in turbulent times: “Your voice, Mr Secretary General, amplifies our own ILO call for action on youth unemployment and we appreciate this immensely.”

The head of the UN echoed the words of Pope Francis, who in a message to the International Labour Conference the week before, had said that with high youth unemployment, “we are throwing away an entire generation.”

“This is why I have made ‘Working with and for women and young people’ one of my top priorities,” Ban said. “The UN system is implementing a system-wide action plan on youth. One priority – which is led by the ILO – is increasing cooperation on employment and entrepreneurship for youth.”

He called on governments to invest more in youth employment initiatives and said that the private sector was a key driver of job creation. He urged trade unions, employers’ organizations and businesses to “empower more youth in your own structures and engage with youth-led organizations,” adding that, “trade unions have a fundamental role in promoting and protecting young workers’ rights”.

“We need strong and innovative strategies, reaching out to specific groups, such as youth with disability and young women, and supporting youth to be job creators.”

Young people themselves have to play a central role, he said, addressing a room full of ILO staff, UN interns and students: “I count on your energy, your leadership and your creativity, to realize change and sustainable development. The United Nations wants to partner with you.”

Ban Ki-moon: decent work for youth backbone of development

During his second visit to the ILO, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, defined youth unemployment as an 'epidemic' which represents a great test of our time. Mr Ban also stressed how the global youth unemployment situation is intolerable, and called for an increasing collaboration and cooperation on employment and entrepreneurship for youth.