International Youth Day

Engage young people to solve youth employment

On International Youth Day, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder calls on actors in the world of work to foster the inclusion of young people.

Statement | 12 August 2015
Today we recognize and commend the civic engagement of young people who, time and again, are showing themselves globally to be forces for positive change. Often the changes they are seeking are connected to the world of work: they are mobilizing and speaking out for a better future with decent work. Their success matters to us all.

It is now eight years since the start of the global financial crisis and it is encouraging that global youth unemployment rates have finally stabilized. However, this rate remains well above its pre-crisis level, and the labour market transition for young women and men, particularly the most disadvantaged, is still an uphill battle. Many young people are trapped in jobs where their rights are not respected and where they work in conditions of great insecurity. There is a real risk of lower lifetime earnings for young workers or their prolonged disconnect from the labour market and society.

Yet, in both the formal and informal economies, there is also evidence of great entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism – in different ways and at different levels, as young people seek ways of coping with and surviving in very difficult job markets. That energy is also being invested in many forms of engagement commonly drawing on the unprecedented connectivity of the young generation.

Tackling the global youth employment challenge calls for action on many fronts but one thing is certain – policy-making needs to heed the voice of young people if it is to respond effectively to their needs and aspirations. Young people in their diverse contexts and realities know well the often simple measures that could best help them on to the ladder of opportunity and onto the road to realizing their ambitions and dreams.

Young people are also investing their energy in solidarity with others. They are often champions for ethical production, for workplaces free from child labour and forced labour, for equality of treatment and for the right to organize as well as for economic activities that protect the planet and people’s livelihoods.

The world of work must stand shoulder to shoulder with young people in their stand for decent jobs and social justice.

Today, as we celebrate the civic engagement of youth, we call on all actors in the world of work – employers and their organizations, workers’ organizations and governments – to actively foster the inclusion of youth making space for young people in their organizations and activities and listening to the voice of youth. By encouraging the participation of youth in their organizational activities, in social dialogue processes and labour market institutions, and by upholding the rights of young people in the labour market, world of work actors can lend powerful support to the inclusion of young people. This will be particularly important in realizing the vision of the 2030 Development Agenda that no one should be left behind.