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World – UN reports lack of job prospects amongst world youth

07 February 2012

The lack of job opportunities, poor education, vulnerable working conditions and insufficient government investments are some of the primary concerns of young people around the world, according to the latest United Nations report on youth.

Published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the report bases its findings on an online survey carried out amongst those 15 to 30 years of age. Participants were asked to share their opinions and experiences on entering the job market.

One of the main concerns amongst young people included that existing education systems are not sufficiently preparing them for the labour market.

“Young people questioned the quality of education they and their peers receive: whether or not it is relevant to available jobs, how their knowledge and skills will serve them in the long-term, and the extent to which decision-makers are committed to needed investment in the potential of young people,” the report said.

Young people pointed out that the education they received was mainly theoretical, leaving them to obtain practical skills on their own. “Today it should be easier to find a job because our generation is the most educated but there is an inadequacy between the training offered and the needs of the labour market,” said Amadou, a Senegalese 24-year-old who participated in the survey.

Since the economic crisis hit the globe, young people have found it increasingly difficult to enter the labour market and in the aftermath of the recession, global youth unemployment recorded its largest annual increase, resulting in some 75.8 million unemployed youth, the report says. The UN also points out that unemployment figures among young people is considerably higher than that of adults; in 2010, global youth unemployment reached 12.6%, compared to 4.8% for adults.

“Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life. We need to pull the UN system together like never before to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth. Let us start with young people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report.

Even when young people have found work, they continue to live a life of insecurity because they are often the ones hired last and fired first. Women, in particular, face greater challenges, often having to work part time or in low-paid jobs.

Despite the disheartening results of the report, young people remain optimistic for the future as they are placing more importance on creating their own opportunities by, for instance becoming entrepreneurs, and working in growing sectors such as green technologies. 

“Young people are, in general, more conscious of global issues like climate change and social equity. I think that promotion of green economies among youth is a winning solution,” said Michael, a 23-year-old who is a member of the World Esperanto Youth Organisation.

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