Youth Employment

The ILO is dedicated to helping Member States increase youth employment. Today youth (ages 15-24) make up 18 percent (1.1 billion) of the total global population yet they are disproportionately affected by unemployment. Globally there are 202 million people who are unemployed, and 40 percent of them are youth. Whether youth are enrolled in school, work, are receiving training, or underemployed or unemployed has important implications for future economic growth and development and stability. When young people are not engaged in the education system or the labor market, they become disconnected from society and do not develop key skills for meaningful employment. Further, historically high numbers of unoccupied youth can cause social unrest.

The ILO’s Youth Employment Program helps countries develop interventions on youth employment. The ILO is also sponsoring an Academy on Youth Development in Turin, Italy, that will support the development and implementation of policies and programs that effectively respond to youth needs.

ILO-Washington engages with relevant stakeholders to promote youth employment within the United States where the population between the ages of 16 and 24 is twice the size of adults who are out of work or underemployed (U.S. Labor Market Spotlight). Lawmakers are beginning to acknowledge the crisis that American youth are facing. This is reflected in efforts such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and, more recently, the Youth Jobs Act, which has been introduced in Congress and addresses the crisis of youth unemployment by providing funding to employ economically disadvantaged young adults in summer and year round jobs. ILO-Washington encourages initiatives that provide young Americans with the training and skills they need for the jobs of the future.


  1. What Works in Youth Employment

    Knowledge sharing event on boosting youth employment in Africa through public works programmes

    30 June, 2015

    Representatives of governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations from many African countries will get together in Ethiopia to explore what works to boost youth employment in the region.

  2. Skills and employability

    Quality apprenticeships "gold standard" to get youth into decent jobs

    September 16, 2014

    ILO Director-General Guy Ryder highlights role of efficient apprenticeship systems in overcoming high youth unemployment.

  3. Event in Washington, D.C.

    First African Youth Forum 2014

    July 31, 2014

    ILO Washington Deputy-Director, Erick J. Zeballos, was a panelist at the first African Youth Forum sponsored by the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund and the Young African Society. With half of Africa’s population under 25 years old, youth employment holds one of the greatest challenges and potential for the region’s future. The objective of the African Youth Forum is to empower and engage Africa’s youth to be active agents of change in implementing new approaches on Africa’s development agenda by providing a platform for discussions, alliances and mentorship. The discussion centered on themes of youth unemployment, good governance, job creation, entrepreneurship, education, the importance of vocational training, and an inclusion of the private sector in policy-making processes