Youth Unemployment: A Crisis That’s Already Happened
New statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) reveal that nearly 75 million youths or 12.7 percent of people aged 15 to 24 will be unemployed this year, up from 12.6 percent in 2011. In 2009, 75.4 million youths were unemployed and the situation is unlikely to improve until 2016, notes Agence France-Presse via Raw Story.
The figures are even worse — 13.6 unemployed — if those who are not seeking a job because they are continuing their education are included.
Youth employment is not approaching a crisis, but is in crisis, says the ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2012 report. The only way to address the problem is by making it a priority in policy-making, says the executive director of the ILO’s employment sector, Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, through tax incentives for private businesses to hire young workers and entrepreneurship programs that can help young people “kick-start” their careers.
All regions, even those that have somewhat recovered from the economic crisis, face major youth employment challenges, notes the ILO, which warns that the situation is “even worse” for those in developed economies “due to a massive drop-out in the labor force.”
Youth unemployment declined slightly to 14.3 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean and to 17.6 percent in central and south-eastern Europe; in the latter region, the economic crisis seems to have led to more youths participating in the workforce due to poverty. It is highest in the Middle East, at 26.5 percent; in North Africa, following the Arab Spring protests that started last year, it is 27.9 percent. It is 11.5 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 13.5 percent in south-east Asia and the Pacific. Even though East Asia’s economy remains strong, unemployment is 2.8 higher for young persons than for adults.
The ILO singles out austerity measures implemented by governments across Europe in the ongoing economic downturn as “fueling” youth unemployment, says CNBC. Youth unemployment is notably high in countries where the economic crisis has hit hardest. Both Greece and Spain have youth unemployment rates of over 50 percent.
In most regions, youth unemployment rates are higher for women than for men, though the reverse is the case in developed economies. Moreover, even when young persons have jobs, these are in areas that are unlikely to sustain them in the long-term:
Many young people are trapped in low-productivity, temporary or other types of work that don’t pave the way for better jobs. In developed economies, youth are increasingly employed in temporary and part-time jobs while in the developing world many perform unpaid work supporting informal family businesses or farms.
On Monday I watched students from my college graduate: One student had taped the words “LOOKING FOR WORK” onto her mortarboard. I know she’s not alone: More than a few of my students who graduated a few years ago are still looking for full-time jobs in the subjects they studied. While looking (and they do keep sending out their resumés), they work a couple of part-time jobs one of which is always in retail, be it scooping ice cream or selling shirts at the mall or ringing up customers’ groceries at the supermarket. Many still, like it or not, live with their parents. Many have student debt in the five figures from loans for college to pay back.
The ILO indeed suggests that temporary and part-time jobs have become a “trap for youth“: Why, indeed, go to college or pursue an education if it only means no job (as promised) at the end?
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