Youth Employment

The ILO is dedicated to helping Member States increase youth employment. Today youth (ages 15-24) make up 17 percent (1.2 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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Event in Washington, D.C.

    International Youth Day + Social Good: 'Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward'

    12 August 2013

    ILO Washington office Director Nancy Donaldson participated as a speaker in the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the UN Foundation to commemorate 2013 International Youth Day.

  4. Event in Washington

    Unpaid Equals Unfair? The Law, Economics and Ethics of Unpaid Internships

    18 March 2013

    In March 2013 ILO-Washington Director Nancy Donaldson participated on a panel at Georgetown University about unpaid internships.

  5. The Stream: Show me the money

    Internships: Building opportunities and skills for youth

    17 January 2013

    In January 2013 Deputy Director Erick Zeballos spoke with Al Jazeera about the value of internships.

Videos on Youth Development

  1. Asia Pacific Youth Network Talk Show with Guy Ryder 

    "The youth crisis is definitely not over", says the ILO General-Director, Guy Ryder.

    December , 2014

    Youth guarantees, entrepreneurship and apprenticeships are tools to getting over 74 million youth back to work, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder during the talkshow organized in the context of the activities of the Asia and Pacific Youth Network of the ILO (APYouthNet). Guy Ryder also explained the reasons why the political commitment of several countries has not yet translated into concrete results.

  2. Youth employment

    Apprenticeships bring skills to young Jordanians

    September 24, 2014

    Jordan is a "young" country, with over 60 per cent of its population under 30. But Jordan's youth face the difficult task finding work, as more than half of them are unemployed. Part of the reason is a mismatch between what they learn at school and the skills needed in the labour market. A new programme by the ILO and the International Youth Foundation is trying to address that challenge.

  3. Youth employment

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

    June 18, 2014

    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.