Youth around the world are particularly vulnerable to marginalization in the labour market because they lack skills, work experience, job search abilities and the financial resources to find employment. As a consequence, young people are more likely to be unemployed or employed in the informal economy. Due to their vulnerable situation, youth were hit harder during the global financial crisis, and subsequently, millions of young people around the world are struggling to gain a foothold in the labour market.
In South Asia, the vulnerability of youth to poor outcomes in the labour market is reflected by higher unemployment rates (10.2 per cent in 2010 versus 3.9 per cent for the total population) and a greater propensity to be operating in the informal economy. A major challenge for governments in South Asia is to create enough jobs to accommodate the millions of young people entering the labour market every year. Much is said on the demographic dividend that exists in these countries; but failing to take advantage of this opportunity risks fuelling political and social unrest.
In order to respond to this global urgency, the Governing Body of the ILO decided in March 2011 to have a General Discussion on the “Youth employment crisis” at the 101th Session of the International Labour Conference. In order to support and strengthen the consultation processes leading to the ILC discussion, the Director General has decided to organize the following events: a) a global Youth Employment Forum that will take place in Geneva at the end of May 2012, and b) a series of national events in around 50 countries (average of 10 countries per region).
For this reason, ILO in partnership with the Directorate General of Employment & Training, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India organized an event focusing on youth employment challenges facing the country’s youth. The objectives of the one-day event on 20 April 2012 in New Delhi were to:
- Promote dialogue among young people, policymakers and the social partners on the youth employment challenge in India;
- Increase the prioritization of youth employment issues in the policy agenda (including among the constituents and ILO); and
- Sensitize ILO constituents on the preparations for the ILC 2012.
Among the 170 participants were representatives of the tripartite constituents (senior officials from the Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sports, Rural Development and Planning Commission, Rajiv AGandhi National Institute for Youth Development, etc.; top functionaries of employers’ organizations and trade union leaders); and youth leaders, student union leaders, civil society organization representatives and young entrepreneurs. A special effort was made to engage as many young representatives amongst the tripartite constituents in the organization of the meeting. In particular, the event heard voices of youth organizations (young leaders and activists) engaged in the promotion of youth employment at the country-level.