Youth Employment and the ILO

“Decent work for young people unlashes multiplier effects throughout the economy and society, boosting investment and consumer demand and ensuring more stable and cohesive societal ties across generations…”

Resolution concerning youth employment, International Labour Conference, 2005


Making decent work for young people a reality is a commitment of the international community and the most explicit foothold of the ILO into the Millennium Development Goals.  Experience has shown that putting this commitment into practice requires sustained and determined action spanning a wide range of policies and programmes. It also requires an integrated approach that articulates supportive policies centred on two basic elements: on the one hand, an integrated strategy for growth and job creation and, on the other, targeted interventions to help young people overcome the specific barriers and disadvantages they face in entering and remaining in the labour market. This is indeed the general approach of the Global Employment Agenda - the ILO’s framework to provide policy advice and technical assistance on employment to constituents in member States.

The ILO’s approach to meeting the commitment on decent work for young women and men is carried out by the Organization through its unique tripartite process, which gives it a distinctive outreach. Such a unique partnership, in which the three parties act on an equal footing and reach consensus through dialogue, is the cornerstone of the way the ILO operates. At national level, the ILO works with and through governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to strengthen in-country capacity to effect action on youth employment. At international level, the ILO is a core partner of the Youth Employment Network - an alliance of the World Bank, the United Nations and the ILO. The YEN provides the ILO with a major channel to build consensus and expand support on youth employment, both globally and nationally.

Operationally, the work of the Organization on youth employment falls under the responsibility of the Youth Employment Programme. The Programme functions through a global network of technical specialists at ILO headquarters in Geneva and in more than 60 offices around the world. It provides assistance to countries in developing coherent and coordinated interventions on youth employment. The Programme’s work is guided by the strategic directions set out in the Resolution concerning youth employment, adopted at the International Labour Conference in 2005. The resolution calls upon the ILO to maximize the comparative advantage of its tripartite structure in its activities to promote decent work for young persons, and in particular to support employers and workers and their respective organizations in this important task (par. 51).

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