The opening cover of the twice yearly report from the UN depicts children looking directly out to the reader, holding up cameras, as if to take a snapshot of their view out into the world. This cover photograph captures the central essence of this report which is to focus and voice the perspectives of youth today on how they see and view their path in the world in regards to the world after school and entering employment.
The global youth unemployment rate has been steadily rising and in 2010 the global unemployment rate for youth was 12.6 per cent in comparison to the global adult unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent. Often young people have fewer skills and less experience of the workplace to draw upon and find themselves encountering challenges in regards to accessing work. Often young people find themselves to be the last ones to be hired and the first to be dismissed. Even when young people are employed they encounter problems regarding professional development and career advancement. Young people represent 23.5 per cent of the working poor.
This report focuses on an online discussion where young people from around the world and leaders of youth-led organisations spoke about the transition of youth from schools and training into the world of work. This discussion took place between 11th October- 7th November using an ‘IntenseDebate’ commenting platform. Those involved in the discussion shared ideas on their own experiences and advise on getting ready to enter the world of work, going into work and remaining in employment. Too often the voices of these youth and stakeholders, who work towards securing work for young people, are side-lined. Thus, this report purposefully draws their voices into the spotlight where youth issues can be explored and acted upon. The discussion was carried out predominantly in English, however posts were submitted and welcomed in the discussion in French and Spanish; these were translated and made visible on the platform.
During the discussion the young people engaged raised similar concerns. These included concerns regarding the quality of education and whether they learn the relevant skills demanded of them in the work place. The youth also voiced their frustrations regarding the high rates of unemployment and when jobs are obtained they very often have short-term contracts, low wages, poor working conditions, long hours and no benefits. Whilst it was discussed that migration can help them access job opportunities young people expressed that they felt that their own countries were failing to support them and address their concerns.
It is proven that good jobs contribute to a young person’s long term success in employment and has an impact on family well-being and the wider economy and society. Current austerity measures in place to reduce public spending on employment and education sectors may actually be prompting increased unemployment. Young people need and deserve social and financial investment so that they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and contribute positively to their communities and society.