ILO Director-General's message on the occasion of International Youth Day 2012

Statement | Geneva | 12 August 2012
On this Youth Day we focus on “Building a better world: Partnering with youth”.

Partnering with youth for action to promote decent jobs for all is central to building a better world.

Facing an unprecedented youth employment crisis, government, employer and worker representatives of the ILO’s 185 member States attending the International Labour Conference in June 2012 issued a strong and urgent Call for Action to address this unprecedented crisis stating: “Unless immediate and vigorous action is taken, the global community confronts the grim legacy of a lost generation”.

They also gave guidance on addressing youth employment challenges in the context of broader approaches to expand opportunities for decent work for all including employment and economic policies to increase aggregate demand and to improve access to finance, measures concerning education and training and school-to-work transition, labour market policies, entrepreneurship and self-employment and labour rights.

Combining these into effective responses will require firm political will, creativity and a commitment of resources. Partnerships at local and national levels will need to be forged and reinforced by international action.

Urgent and targeted action is required to reach 75 million young people worldwide who are out of work and the 228 million struggling for survival in the informal economy and living in extreme poverty. Without decent jobs their potential remains unrealized and a whole generation risks being scarred and discouraged by unemployment or underemployment. Their families and communities also bear the cost. Increasingly the general belief and expectation that each successive generation will improve its employment and economic prospects is being eroded. Persistent and widespread youth unemployment brings the prospect of widening inequality and social instability and is a real constraint to securing inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

In May 2012, a Youth Employment Forum organized by the ILO, brought together more than 100 young leaders from every corner of the globe representing diverse perspectives. It was the culmination of a series of national and regional consultations involving nearly 5,000 participants. With abundant energy and creativity they put forward their proposals for the future and sent a strong message: “no solution for us without us”.

The International Labour Conference’s Call for Action says young people’s “voices should be heard, their creativity engaged, and their rights respected in dealing with the youth employment crisis.”

Today, let us heed this call, resolve to listen, to be inclusive and to act together. Let us commit to joining with young people everywhere to build a world of work that is a gateway to a progressively better future.