Technology and automation are causing continued disruption in the labour market, along with the effects of climate change, demographics and the evolving nature of employment relations. The impact of these factors is causing a dramatic rise in global youth unemployment, with figures in Asia Pacific expected to reach 27 million in 2019.
These are impressive statistics and we need to look at ways in which we can help resolve the situation going forward. Sufficient numbers of new and decent employment opportunities are vital to boost the social and economic growth potential of the region and establish an inclusive, sustainable and human-centred world of work.
With this in mind, youth employment is a priority. However, how do we solve this complex challenge which is so intertwined with economic development, child labour, rural livelihoods, urban and trans-border migration, gender, poverty and vulnerability?
While there is no simple solution, we should start by ensuring the youth are adequately represented and actively involved in solving today’s complex problems – especially if these issues are related to their future and work opportunities. Young people are the ones who understand the measures that will help them adapt in their particular situation. They also tend to be the most robust advocates for positive measures that create equality in the workplace, ecological sustainability and decent work. We can all benefit from this sense of commonality and social justice.
Governments should create policies that support employment and lift aggregate demand, including public employment programmes, wage and training subsidies, sectoral programmes, counter-cyclical fiscal policies and youth entrepreneurship interventions.
There also needs to be strong partnerships between both public policy and the private sector to scale up investment and create decent jobs for youths. Venture partnerships in areas including education, training, skills development, social protection, self-employment and entrepreneurship, language and technology are key. By merging existing expertise and enhancing knowledge on what works for youth employment, programmes can be provided that leverage resources from existing facilities and create new ones.
Also, adopting or expanding intervention measures that help the young, especially the disadvantaged, to integrate into the labour-market and through experience is critical. These include labour-market training and quality apprenticeship and work experience programmes, job search assistance and other employment services.
For the benefit of inclusive economic growth and a reasonable transition to a more sustainable world, a clear focus on the issue of youth unemployment is critical. With the right resolve, we can develop effective policies that help to build the skills and jobs that young people of today, and the future, need and deserve.