Youth Unemployment Worldwide: Millions Not Working, Not Studying

ILO News— Youth unemployment around the world has driven millions of young people to essentially give up looking for a job, warned the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a new report.

The youth unemployment rate (at 12.6% in 2011) would be a full percentage point higher if it included the number of young people who have dropped out of the labor market, said the ILO in itsGlobal Employment Trends for Youth 2012 report (

The crisis-linked withdrawal from the labor market is particularly strong in developed economies, according to the report.

Of particular concern are young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training – known by the acronym NEET in many countries, “disconnected youth” in the United States and “ni-ni” (neither-nor) in Spanish-speaking countries.

This group has been growing since the onset of the financial crisis, reflecting an increasing detachment from the labor market among young people, the report said.

If youth are economically inactive because they are in education or training, they invest in skills that may improve their future employability, but NEETs risk both labor market and social exclusion.

Youth Unemployment Selected National And Regional NEET Figures

  • In 2010, 15.6% of youths in the United States were neither employed nor in education or training.
  • In New Zealand the NEET rate was 13.1% and in Japan, 9.7% while the OECDaverage was 12.8%.
  • In the European Union, the rate increased 1.9 percentage points from its pre-crisis level of 10.9%, and exceeded 15% in Bulgaria, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Romania and Spain.
  • Data for 24 developing economies show an average NEET rate of 12.4% for young men and 28.1% for young women.
  • In the developed worldNEETs tend to have a low education level, a low household income or an immigrant background. By contrast, young people who postpone their job search by remaining in the education system, tend to have higher education levels to start off with.
  • In developing economies, on the other hand, NEETs tend to be less poor than young people who have jobs, as employment is often poverty-driven and many young men have no alternative but to work.

Tools To Tackle The Youth Unemployment Problem

Answer to youth unemployment: Get dropouts back in school
One answer to youth unemployment: Get dropouts back in school

Several countries are seeking to tackle the youth unemployment issue through measures related to education, employment and school-to-work transition.

In the European Union, many countries have set up initiatives to give school dropouts a chance to re-enter education, often combined with practical training.

In Bulgaria and Romania, where withdrawals from schools are often poverty related, the state provides assistance programs that includes free snacks, text books and transport.

Several countries offer incentives, such as tax relief, to encourage companies to recruit and train young people and where possible create additional jobs.

The US administration earlier this year launched a joint initiative with business leaders and communities to provide summer jobs to hundreds of thousands of “disconnected” and low-income youths to help them gain work experience, skills and contacts.

Policies based on partnership approaches with stakeholders beyond the public sector have also been shown to be particularly effective in combating youth unemployment.

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