Youth on the vanguard of efforts for a better world for all

Youth delegates at this year's Youth Forum highlighted the importance of decent jobs at a time where changes to globalization are characterised by lower wages and rising inequalities.

News | 01 February 2017
NEW YORK (ILO News) – In a climate of renewed concerns about economic, social and environmental issues, youth employment remains a top priority for the international community with 71 million youth unemployed globally.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres in addressing the Forum via video message invited the youth delegates at the annual Youth Forum to “tell us how the United Nations can see the world from your perspective – and answer your concerns.”

The Youth Forum, convened by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), brought together over 600 youth delegates and Ministers of Youth to share their ideas and suggestions to more equitably achieve sustainable development.

Throughout the Forum, delegations and youth representatives emphasized the critical importance of addressing youth employment. During two days of panel discussions, thematic breakout sessions and side-events, young people highlighted concrete measures for action.

On the issue of employment, there was a widespread concern about job quality, especially in emerging and developing countries, and it remains a major concern for youth. In fact, 152.2 million youth live in extreme poverty or in moderate poverty despite being in employment. This means that more than 2 in every 5 young people in the workforce are without work or working but poor (ILO, 2016).

A session on “Ending poverty in all its forms and creating decent jobs for youth” jointly organized by ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UNCDF, UNICEF, IOM and the Major Group for Children and Youth offered an opportunity for Member States, young leaders and youth organizations to identify solutions in the areas of youth in fragile situations, youth entrepreneurship and quality apprenticeships. These thematic areas have been identified as areas of priority by the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth that was launched at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in February 2016.

“The Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth is the most comprehensive UN System wide effort for the promotion of youth employment worldwide including 22 United Nations entities,” said Mr. Vinícius Pinheiro, Special Representative to the UN and Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations.

The Initiatives objective, continued Mr. Pinheiro, is to facilitate increased impact and expanded country-level action on decent jobs for youth. It was devised around a strategic alliance of engagement groups within and beyond the UN system, the Global Initiative seeks to assist Member States in delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In 2016, significant efforts were made to set the foundation to operationalize the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. Moving forward, Mr. Pinheiro highlighted concrete actions across several themes, including:
  • Skills for youth, including digital skills and quality apprenticeships
  • Green jobs for youth,
  • Supporting young people in the rural economy,
  • Facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal economy,
  • Supporting young people in fragile situations,
  • Enhancing youth entrepreneurship and self-employment, and
  • Assisting youth, aged 15 to 17, who are in hazardous occupations.
Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme highlighted the need for youth economic empowerment and referred to joint work under the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.

Mr. Werner Faymann, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth Employment urged Governments, the private sector, youth-led organizations and young leaders to join forces in promoting decent jobs for youth and creating fair societies.

Addressing all participants of the ECOSOC Youth Forum, Mr. Pinheiro concluded: “Only by working together we can achieve that common goal of full and productive employment and decent work for youth.”