Youth Unemployment: ILO Chief Says Less Austerity, More Investment Needed

ILO News– International Labour Organization (ILO) chief Guy Ryder has called for less austerity and more investments to promote a jobs recovery at a time when the youth unemployment crisis threatens to scar “the very fabric of our societies.”

Guy Ryder ILO issues a call to action to deal with youth unemployment

Guy Ryder

Ryder stressed that  measures promoting youth employment should be shielded from austerity policies and that spending on such programs should be increased.

“Investing in these measures is far less costly than dealing with the consequences through unemployment benefits, antisocial behavior or a more permanent disconnect from the labor market,” the ILO director-general told government, worker and employer representatives at a conference in Budapest.

“The higher the investment, the lower the youth unemployment rate,” he added.

Ryder pointed out that the global crisis took a bigger toll on youth than any other group.

  • Worldwide, the are nearly 75 million unemployed youth aged 15 to 24.
  • In Europe, there 5.5 million unemployed youth. At 22%, youth unemployment more than double the adult rate.
  • Long-term unemployment affects nearly 30% of unemployed youth in Europe.
  • Some 14 million young people, more than 15% of European youth aged between 15 and 29, are NEETs – neither in education, employment or training. The number of NEETs has almost doubled in nearly two years.

“We cannot and should not let that happen before our very eyes,” said Ryder. “It is time for action, for immediate and targeted action.”

Apprenticeships and other work-training programs, government incentives for employers who hire young people, entrepreneurship, social enterprises and cooperatives, as well as public employment programs can be part of the solution.

But isolated interventions are not enough to tackle the issue. Targeted measures, such as youth guarantees, are far more effective.

Ryder stressed that such packages of measures are affordable and that the costs of inactivity – allowing long-term youth unemployment to grow and NEETs to disconnect from society – would be far higher.

The ILO Director-General said the 2012 ILO Call for Action on youth uemployment was a very strong call to policy makers to respond to the youth uemployment crisis.

The Call for Action is accompanied by a policy portfolio of possible and tested measures from around the world, which were debated and evaluated long and hard during the last International Labour Conference.

He also welcomed the package of measures proposed by the European Commission last December in Brussels to address youth unemployment.

Ryder said the ILO will support and fully cooperate with the European Commission in the implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of different measures promoting youth employment at the European level.

He also highlighted ILO support for bipartite negotiations between European employers’ and workers’ organizations for a framework action plan on youth unemployment.

The ILO’s call for action on youth unemployment

The International Labour Conference in June 2012 issued a call for action on youth unemployment, calling on governments and the social partners to:

  • Foster pro-employment growth and decent job creation through macroeconomic policies, employability, labor market policies, youth entrepreneurship and labor rights.
  • Promote macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improve access to finance and increase productive investment.
  • Adopt fiscally sustainable and targeted measures, such as countercyclical policies and demand-side interventions, public employment programs, employment guarantee schemes, labor-intensive infrastructure programs, wage and training subsidies.


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