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World – Youth unemployment is a world priority at Davos Economic Forum

26 January 2011

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work continues to rise worldwide. In the United Kingdom, for example, government figures show one in five young people is jobless, the highest proportion since records began. Even in countries such as Germany, where the economy has been robust, a skills mismatch is slowing down the recovery, partly due to the lack of workforce entrants with the right skills needed by employers.

Jeffrey A. Joerres, Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO, commented "young people require the sense of purpose that meaningful work provides and companies need the right talent to meet their business objectives. In order to reconcile the two, a radical approach is necessary. Entrepreneurship must be incentivised and young people need to be given the tools and taught the skills they need to make themselves more appealing to potential employers."

Skilled trades regularly top Manpower's annual list of the Hardest Jobs to Fill, yet even with unemployment high, these vocations are poorly regarded compared to liberal arts and other university degrees. Skilled trades offer potentially lucrative alternative careers to traditional university degrees, yet are faced with the perception that they are less honourable. A societal mind-shift must be created by employers, trade groups and educators working together to bring honour back to skilled trades.

Joerres added "society does not view working in skilled trades as honourable as a university education and that needs to change. The stakeholders who rely on skilled workers must find ways to emphasise the appeal of the work, take steps to reach students early in their education and impress on older students and parents the value of pursuing these vocations."

As older workers continue to exit the workforce taking valuable skills and experience with them, the need to fully engage young workers grows ever more critical to ease worsening skills matches and tackle the economic and social problems associated with youth unemployment.

As the World Economic Forum gets underway in Davos, Switzerland, The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has published its latest report entitled 'Global Employment Trends 2011: The Challenge of a Jobs Recovery'.

ILO Director-General, Juan Somavia, commented "there is one common challenge: we need to rethink our standard macroeconomic policy mixes and make quality job creation and decent work a central target of macroeconomic policies, alongside high growth, low inflation and balanced public budgets. We must not forget that for people the quality of work defines the quality of a society."

"Youth employment is a world priority" stated Mr. Somavia. "The weak recovery in decent work reinforces a persistent inability of the world economy to secure a future for all youth. This undermines families, social cohesion and the credibility of policies" he added.  

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