Global youth unemployment rate to reach 13 per cent this year: ILO

The world youth unemployment rate this year is close to its crisis peak and is not expected to decline before 2018, according to a new ILO report. Unemployment rate among young people in Viet Nam is also more than three times higher than the adult rate.

Press release | 08 May 2013
HANOI (ILO News) – The global youth unemployment rate is projected to reach almost 13 per cent in 2013 – the equivalent of 73 million young people, according to a new report launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland today.

The Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 shows that the rate is nearly the same as it was at the height of the economic crisis and is not expected to decline before 2018.

The situation varies between the developed and the developing world, but no country is immune. Increasing numbers of youth people are turning to part-time jobs or find themselves stuck in temporary employment. Skills mismatch on youth labour markets has become a persistent and growing trend whereas over-education and over-skilling coexist with under-education and under-skilling.

While many young people in the developed countries have given up looking for a job altogether or have lowered their expectations to settle for any job they can find, in South-East Asia and the Pacific, unemployment rate reached 13.1 per cent in 2012 and is expected to rise to above 14 per cent by 2017.

“The magnitude of the numbers suggests that we are looking at a generation at risk; millions of unemployed or underutilized young people, whose period of “youthful” dependency on parents and the state is being prolonged,” said José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO Assistant Director-General for Policy.

Young unemployed people register at a job promotion centre in the central province of Ha Tinh. © ILO
In the countries surveyed, up to two thirds of young people were either unemployed; working in irregular, poor-quality, low-wage jobs, frequently in the informal economy. The findings demonstrate that competition for scarce jobs forces under-educated young people in developing countries into further vulnerability. Young people who live in rural areas or who are migrating to urban areas are especially affected. Without sustainable job creation and better access to education and skills training, progress on reducing poverty is at risk.

Creative and wide-ranging solutions are needed

The global economic and social crisis urgently requires collective action from public policy, the private sector, trade unions and other actors. Globally, a coordinated macroeconomic response that puts jobs first, especially for young people, is needed.

“Growth does not happen without people working,” said the ILO Assistant Director-General for Policy.

In parallel, at the national level, a set of youth employment specific measures are required. These include interventions to ensure young people have the skills sought by employers; that small and medium sized enterprises have access to credit, allowing them to employ more young workers; and that young people have the same rights, working conditions and social protection as adult workers.

Apprenticeships are also a powerful instrument to achieve impact and scale on youth employment, reduce the mismatch of skills, and promote efficient transitions from the world of education to the world of employment. The training initiatives that have proved most relevant to the jobs market are characterized by close collaboration between public policy, enterprises, social partners, training providers and young people.

Youth unemployment in Viet Nam

Unemployment rate among young people in Viet Nam is more than three times higher than the adult rate. Nearly half of the unemployed in the country last year are between 15 and 24 of age.

“It is not easy to be young in the labour market today,” said ILO Viet Nam Director Gyorgy Sziraczki. “The economic crunch has unfortunately hard hit the most dynamic generation of workers.”

But youth unemployment is only the peak of the iceberg. Four million or over 53 per cent of young people are in vulnerable employment. They are self-employed or work as contributing family workers, which are typically low-productivity jobs with meagre income, poor working conditions and lack of social protection.

The ongoing reform of the education and training system is key to tap the talent, energy and creativity of young women and men and support a dynamic development process.

“A national vocational and technical education system that promotes the employability of youth and meets the present and future needs of businesses is essential to productivity growth, increased competitiveness and job creation,” said Mr Sziraczki. “It is time to strengthen the link between education and training and export growth, economic diversification and creation of more and better jobs.”

Unlocking the potential of small- and medium-sized enterprises through cutting red tape and providing finance and business support services is another way to promote productive job opportunities for young people.

According to Matthieu Cognac, ILO Asia-Pacific Youth Employment Specialist, attention should also be directed to rural areas where the majority of young people live and work. “Employment counselling, entrepreneurship courses and business mentoring could help many young people to start and grow their own business.”

The Ministry of Education and Training has decided to integrate ILO business training package into the national secondary education curricula, which will be revised in 2015. The package “Know About Business”, a training methodology for trainers and teachers to create awareness about entrepreneurship among young people, has been used in 50 countries worldwide.

According to the ILO Viet Nam director, Viet Nam’s youth employment challenges cannot be tackled without promoting structural change to unleash growth, macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improve access to finance and increase productive investment. “Young people deserve a better start and equal treatment, otherwise Viet Nam would lose huge contribution to its socio-economic development,” he said.

For the full report and more information, please click here.