ILO Director-General calls for urgent action on youth unemployment

Director General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, told Caribbean Labour Ministers that there is a need to focus more closely on strategies to address youth unemployment.

News | 02 July 2013
PORT OF SPAIN - (ILO News) - Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, told Caribbean Labour Ministers that there is a need to focus more closely on strategies to address youth unemployment.

Addressing the Eighth ILO Caribbean Labour Ministers Meeting in Port of Spain on Tuesday July 2, Ryder highlighted that the ILO is in “a process of reform” which will enable the Organization to meet current challenges.

The Director-General further emphasized his commitment to “bring the ILO closer to our constituents…not just to governments, but also to workers and employers organizations” and to “to make our Organization more useful” through the quality of the services that it offers.

Ryder stated that in order to make the Organization more relevant, there is a need to address and not ignore "the more difficult of the challenges before us, and in the final analysis we need to make the ILO more influential to progress the cause of social justice to which we all subscribe.”

On the issue of youth unemployment, the ILO Head said “it is no cliché … to speak of the lost generation of young people. It is the reality of today and we must react to it.” […] “There are 2 hundred million unemployed today, and the crisis as we have been reminded, is particularly acute among young people and that is particular disturbing. Those without employment or education and training in your region is nearing 20 per cent of young people.” […]

Ryder concluded on this issue that “doing right by youth is a foundation for future success.”

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Irwin LaRocque also expressed concern about the issue when he addressed the Opening Ceremony of the Meeting. He referred to the fact that the incidence of unemployment among the youth is higher than among the adult population.

“The data reveals that youth unemployment rates are substantially above the national averages across the region,” he said. “Indeed, it is more than twice the adult rate. A reduction in youth unemployment to the adult levels would contribute to growth of between one and two per cent in GDP among our member States.”

LaRocque said even among those who successfully complete secondary and tertiary education, and among those who have access to technology, “many are unable to secure a decent job.”

Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development of Trinidad and Tobago, Errol McLeod pointed to the fact that, worldwide, “we now know that 75 million young persons and counting are unemployed. We now know, with unquestionable clarity, that we need jobs-rich growth and decent work for development. Our challenge in the labour community is to convince our colleagues of the merits of a decent work approach.”

“It requires much dialogue, national policy coherence and strengthening of the relationship among government, employers and workers,” McLeod said.

There are 19 Caribbean Labour Ministers in Port of Spain for the two-day Meeting. The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, in welcoming participants said “business as usual, is no longer a viable option” for global economies.

She said it was important for Caribbean governments to “focus more fundamentally on labour issues”.

The Prime Minister later held bilateral discussions with the ILO Director General who also met earlier with LaRocque