Youth Unemployment a “Social Time-Bomb”

  Youth Unemployment a “Social Time-Bomb”

The ITUC has described the high and rising levels of youth unemployment globally as a “social time-bomb”, which risks damaging the social, economic and political fabric of countries around the world. New figures released by the International Labour Organisation today, the United Nations Youth Day, underline the dramatic increase in the number of young jobless as the employment impacts of the global economic crisis continue to worsen.

“More than 80 million young people are now out of work and many millions more are trapped in short-term, low-paid jobs or in the informal economy. An entire generation of young people is being left behind, and the consequences of this for society will be severe. Governments have to act urgently to get job-creation moving, by maintaining economic stimulus where it is needed rather than by cutting public expenditure,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

While youth unemployment has been steadily increasing for more than a decade, the ILO report shows that the economic crisis caused an explosive increase in the jobless rate, with an additional 8 million young people out of work between 2007 and 2009, bringing the overall percentage to 13%. The report analyses the situation in industrialised and emerging economies, which have the highest overall levels ever recorded, as well as the developing world, where increasing youth unemployment is compounded by some 152 million young “working poor” caught in extreme poverty.

Even if the global employment situation does begin to improve, youth unemployment is expected to reduce more slowly than for older workers, and the pattern of short-term, part-time and precarious work for those young people able to find work will persist unless governments act effectively. The long-term economic and social impacts of high youth unemployment are well documented, and the damage to social cohesion from the current crisis is likely to be long-lasting and deep.

“Trade unions across the world are pressing governments to adopt macro-economic policies which put employment at the centre, as well as specific measures to improve the access of young people to decent jobs and quality education and training. We as trade unions also need to do more to reach out to young people, to keep their concerns at the top of our own agenda both in terms of government policy as well as protection in the labour market and the workplace,” said Burrow.

Read the ILO report


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