Seoul, South Korea

Since the Korean War, South Korea has emerged as one of the more politically and economically free nations in the world. Home to companies like Samsung and Hyundai, South Korea’s economy has been growing for years. While South Korea has become a model for other countries in southeastern Asia, the country is also facing new challenges that a strong economy alone cannot fix. Here is a list of the top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in South Korea

  1. Life Expectancy: The life expectancy rate is one of the highest in the world. South Koreans, on average, have a life expectancy range that goes into the mid-80s for men and into the 90s for women. This means the country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, a benefit to having free, universal healthcare coverage. Koreans’ diets consist of steam-cooked rice, vegetables and meat, constituting a healthy meal and contributing to a long and healthy life.
  2. Credit Access: South Korea is among the world’s top countries with high credit card usage. South Koreans averaged almost 130 credit card transactions per person in 2011, according to the Bank of Korea. Additionally, it is illegal for businesses to refuse credit cards, even for smaller purchases. This has created a bustling tourism and shopping industry in South Korea.
  3. High Suicide Rate: The suicide rate in South Korea is among the highest in the world. It is believed that the high suicide rate is due to the long work hours and stress in the workplace. Another factor contributing to these high rates is the level of poverty and loneliness among the elderly. The country has taken preventative measures to combat such a tragic statistic. Korean legislature continues to update and improve the Mental Health Act. The Act for the Prevention of Suicide and the Creation of Culture of Respect for Life went into effect in 2011, which sets forth policies to help prevent suicides.
  4. Youth Unemployment: The country’s economy is strong, but it is slowly declining. With such large companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai in South Korea, many smaller businesses are having trouble cementing themselves into Korean society. These larger companies then offer less than ideal contracts to smaller companies who must accept them or risk going out of business. This is disabling young people’s ability to find jobs with a smaller market of opportunities. More than 11 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are unable to find jobs. President Moon Jae-in promises to combat the unemployment of young people during his presidency.
  5. Universal Healthcare: South Korea has adopted an affordable, universal healthcare system. It was first introduced in 1989. As mentioned above, this may be a key factor in the increase in life expectancy in South Korea. The country also created plans to help its citizens treat certain forms of dementia. It is projected that the percentage of South Koreans age 65 or older will increase to 40 percent by the year 2060.
  6. Plans to Boost the Economy: South Korea has decreased its infrastructure spending, but is increasing its minimum wage. President Moon has planned to drastically increase South Korea’s spending budget by around $420 billion in 2019. The goal is to increase the number of jobs available and to raise the minimum wage; however, these programs will also create budget cuts for infrastructure spending.
  7. Climate Change: The country is taking action on climate change. In an effort to learn more about climate change, the Korean National Institute of Environmental Research began working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other organizations in 2016. These organizations have been focusing on monitoring air quality throughout East Asia. Citizens of South Korea are affected by smog and concentrations of particulate matter that lead to respiratory illnesses. South Korean air is twice as polluted as some other countries.
  8. Low Violence Rates: South Korea has low rates of terrorism and violence. South Koreans have great respect for the rule of law, according to data from the World Bank. Citizens also have a great deal of respect for the courts and rules of society. It is possible that the impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye in 2017 also increased confidence in the South Korean legal system.
  9. Expensive Housing: The already expensive housing prices in South Korea are increasing even more. The nation’s capital, Seoul, is the most expensive city to live in South Korea. It’s twice as expensive to live there than anywhere else in the country. During the past year, housing prices have risen 23 percent in Seoul and 12.5 percent outside of the city. To encourage young people to live in the city, the government offered 70,000 homes to newlyweds in December 2018.
  10. Long Work Weeks: South Koreans work more than the majority of other countries. In 2018, South Korea changed the maximum limit that employees may work from 68 hours to 52 per week. This change was put into effect to improve health conditions and keep laborers from becoming overworked. This bill limited the work week of South Koreans to 40 hours per week with 12 hours of optional overtime at 50 to 100 percent normal pay rate. As the last fact on this list of top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea, it shows South Korea is prioritizing mental health and the well-being of its citizens.

South Korean has made great advancements in the quality of living conditions, but there is still room for improvement. Many younger Koreans believe that President Moon’s policies will lead to more benefits and a fairer society. These top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea outline a promising future, but making mental health and financial stability a priority is necessary for the country’s citizens.

Jodie Ann Filenius

Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment in South Africa Globally, 71 million youths were unemployed in 2017, according to a report by the International Labor Organization. Unemployment in South Africa is particularly high and has been so for decades, with 5.5 million young people currently searching for work. In response to high youth unemployment in South Africa, a social enterprise known as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was created to help connect young people seeking work with employers.

Youth Unemployment in South Africa

With 26.7 percent of the population unemployed, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. With 63 percent of South Africans being under the age of 35, South Africa has a large youth population. The unemployment rate for youths, defined as those aged 15 to 34, was estimated to be 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Each year, 1.1 million South African youths enter the labor market, but only 6 percent enter formal employment, and an additional 8 percent are informally employed. The remaining 86 percent are either continuing their education, looking for jobs or becoming discouraged by the system.

High youth unemployment in South Africa is caused by a variety of factors, including high public education drop-out rates, a lack of significant economic growth and the nation’s legacy of apartheid. With many of the poor still living in townships located far away from urban centers, finding work remains difficult. Even if they are qualified for certain positions, they may lack the ability to travel into the city, particularly in the face of inadequate public transportation.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

Formed in 2011 in Johannesburg, Harambee has been providing services for the youth across the nation and has helped more than 50,000 young South Africans obtain their first job. In order to provide opportunities to youths outside of the city, Harambee hires recruiters who go to the townships and record contact information for young people who are searching for jobs. From there, some youths are given an invitation to come to a Harambee office to discuss their skills and interests. A trained job coach them helps them through the process of creating a CV and preparing for job interviews. Harambee even provides free interview clothes for those unable to access or afford them.

Another way of connecting with job-seeking youth and working to reduce youth unemployment in South Africa is through the application on the Harambee website. On this application, young South Africans indicate their skills and what kinds of work they are interested in, making it easier for Harambee to successfully match them with an employer.

Harambee has partnered with 450 employers, ranging from small businesses to large corporations. Many of these employers are looking to fill entry-level positions, providing opportunities for South African youths without any prior job experience to find gainful employment. When deciding on matches, Harambee considers the needs of the company, as well as the skills of the potential employee and their proximity to the job. Transportation costs must be considered, and if they are too high, workers may go into debt, in spite of being employed.

For those who have the potential to get hired for more rigorous jobs, Harambee provides vocational training for up to eight weeks to prepare applicants for employment. Since many of the youths Harambee works with come from poor backgrounds, they often lack the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the workforce. Harambee does what it can to ensure the young people the organization is working with will be successful in their employment.

Success Stories

One South African youth, 23-year-old Thabo Ngwato, was unemployed and had been having difficulty filling out job applications until his friend recommended Harambee to him. Through Harambee, Ngwato found work at a call center in Johannesburg, allowing him to support his mother and nephew as well as to purchase his first car. Ngwato told Reuters that, thanks to Harambee, “I know how to network, look for employment. The skills are ones I can take anywhere.” Helping with the application process and teaching basic jobs skill is essential in reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Similarly, 29-year-old Oratile Phekoayane was hired as a Webhelp worker after finding Harambee. The services Harambee provided helped her develop interpersonal skills in order to have more confidence in interviews. According to Reuters, Phekoayane stated, “I see myself as a business partner here. I’m looking to grow, maybe join the executive side.” Thanks to Harambee, she was able to gain employment, develop her skills and become successful with the potential for mobility.

Currently, Harambee has a goal of helping at least 10,000 young South Africans find employment each year. By 2022, they want to have matched 500,000 young people with employers, which will require a significant increase in the number of youths they help become employed each year.

Luckily, Harambee is not alone in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president since February 2018, has also been making youth unemployment a priority. Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Services (YES) initiative in 2018 and has been working to convince companies to reinvest 1.5 percent of their profits into providing paid work experience to young South Africans. By encouraging companies to reinvest in the country’s youth, Ramaphosa is acknowledging the important role that young people will play in the future of South Africa.

Harambee’s success and continuous growth indicate that the goal of ending youth unemployment may be attainable. Harambee has already had a significant impact on reducing youth unemployment in South Africa. Furthermore, it has provided a model for other organizations around the world to use to reduce youth unemployment.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

 

Youth Unemployment in South Africa
According to a report of the International Labor Organization, 71 million youth were unemployed in 2017 globally.

In South Africa, youth unemployment is particularly high and has been so for decades, with 5.5 million young people currently searching for work.

In response to high youth unemployment in South Africa, a social enterprise known as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was created to help connect young people seeking work with employers.

Formed in 2011 in Johannesburg, Harambee now services youth across the nation and has helped more than 50,000 young South Africans obtain their first job.

The Numbers

With 26.7 percent of the population unemployed, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The unemployment rate for youths, defined as those aged 15 to 34, is much higher and was estimated to be 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

South Africa has a large youth population since 63 percent of South Africans are under the age of 35. This fact further increases the impact of youth unemployment on the nation. Over 63 percent of the unemployed population is youth and each year 1.1 million South African youths enter the labor market.

Of this number, only 6 percent enter formal employment, with an additional 8 percent becoming informally employed. The remaining 86 percent either continue their education, look for jobs or become discouraged by the system.

The Reasons for Youth Unemployment

High youth unemployment in South Africa is caused by a variety of factors, including high public education drop-out rates, a lack of significant economic growth and the nation’s legacy of apartheid.

With many of the poor people still living in townships located far away from urban centers, finding work remains difficult. Even if they are qualified for certain positions, they may lack the ability to travel into the city, particularly in the face of inadequate public transportation.

Harambee Work for Youth Unemployment in South Africa

In order to provide opportunities to youths outside the city, Harambee hires recruiters who go to the townships and record contact information for young people who are searching for jobs.

From there, some youths are given an invitation to come to a Harambee office to discuss their skills and interests. A trained job coach then helps them through the process of creating a CV (biography) and preparing for job interviews. Harambee even provides free interview clothes for those unable to afford it.

Harambee has partnered with 450 employers, ranging from small businesses to large corporations. Many of these employers are looking to fill entry-level positions, providing opportunities for South African youths without any prior job experience to become employed.

When deciding on matches between employees and employers, Harambee considers the needs of the company, as well as the skills of the potential employee and their proximity to the job. Transportation costs must be considered, and if they are too high, workers may have to go into debt, in spite of being employed.

As another way of connecting with job-seeking youth in order to reduce youth unemployment in South Africa, Harambee offers an application on their website.

By filling this application, young South Africans indicate their skills and what kinds of work they are interested in, making it easier for Harambee to successfully match them with an employer.

For those who have the potential to get hired for more rigorous jobs, Harambee provides vocational training for up to eight weeks to prepare them for employment.

Since many of the youths, Harambee works with come from poor backgrounds and they often lack needed knowledge and skills, Harambee does what it can to ensure the young people will be successful upon becoming employed.

Harambee Successful Stories

One South African youth, 23-year-old Thabo Ngwato, was unemployed and had little success filling out job applications until his friend recommended Harambee to him.

Through Harambee, Ngwato found work at a call center in Johannesburg, allowing him to support his mother and nephew and purchase his first car. Ngwarto told Reuters that thanks to Harambee he now knows how to network and look for employment, which are the skills he can take anywhere.

Similarly, 29-year-old Oratile Phekoayane was hired as a Web help worker due to Harambee. The services Harambee provided helped her be less nervous in interviews and develop interpersonal skills.

According to Reuters, Phekoayane stated, “I see myself as a business partner here. I’m looking to grow, maybe join the executive side.” Due to Harambee, she was able to gain employment, develop her skills and become successful, with the potential for mobility.

Harambee is not alone in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa, however.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president since February 2018, has made youth unemployment a priority. Ramaphosa has worked to convince companies to reinvest 1.5 percent of their profits into providing paid work experience to young South Africans.

Currently, Harambee has a goal of helping at least 10,000 young South Africans find employment each year. By 2022, they want to match 500,000 young people with employers, requiring a significant increase in the number of youths they help become employed each year.

Harambee’s success and continuous growth, however, indicate that this goal may be attainable. And even if it is not achieved, Harambee will still have made a significant impact on reducing youth unemployment in South Africa, providing a model for other organizations in the country.

– Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr


Zambia’s youth have continued to face not only high unemployment rates, but also poor quality education, teenage pregnancies and early marriages. Fackson Shamenda (Zambia’s labour and social security minister) says the country’s young people are critical for development objectives; however, work is being done to increase employment for Zambia’s youth.

Promoting Equality Among Zambia’s Employed Youth

Launched in 2013, Impact Enterprises was Zambia’s first digital outsourcing company with a mission to provide the country’s youth with digital jobs. The company soon found that in group settings, young Zambian women were afraid to share their opinions among male coworkers. In June 2015, Impact Enterprises launched Ladies of Victory and Encouragement (LOVE), a support group for its female employees.

By July 2015, LOVE helped the company’s female employees become more confident in participating amongst male workers. One of the employees, Debra, said that LOVE restored the energy she used to have in secondary school. In January 2016, Dimitri Zakharov (CEO of Impact Enterprises) said the LOVE support group significantly strengthened the company’s employees and services.

Zambia’s Action Plan For Unemployed Youth

In March 2016, Zambia’s government developed an action plan to increase employment for Zambia’s youth. These are some of the action plan’s objectives:

  • Make youth employment a strategic target for developing Zambia’s economy.
  • Rejuvenate the dynamism of the local labour markets by enhancing the quality of Zambia’s graduate programs and students’ skills.
  • Ensure full participation of Zambia’s young men and women in the design and planning of youth-centred interventions.

Jerry Sakala (patron of Zambia’s U.N. Youth Association) said that for strides of addressing unemployed youth to be meaningful, strong and coordinated responses will be required from both Zambia’s stakeholders and its youth. “This multi-sectoral approach will ensure that programmes and activities to empower and create employment opportunities for the youth are mainstreamed across all sectors,” said Sakala.

A Young Zambian Entrepreneur Employs 50 People

For young Zambians who have achieved stable employment, they now work to give back to their fellow unemployed residents. In February 2017, Jessie Chipindo (a young entrepreneur and founder of Zambia’s Dulce & Banana restaurant) employed 50 specialized staff to work for her business. Zambia’s government was greatly pleased with Chipindo’s work. Chipindo thanked the government for creating an environment where the country’s young entrepreneurs could flourish.

Agriculture as a Profitable Investment For Zambia’s Youth

In January 2018, Dr. Kaunda (cofounder of Billionaire Farmer Agric Solutions) said that Zambia’s youth could generate great profit from agricultural work; however, the challenge lies in attracting the youth to this job in the first place.

“We need to change the outdated perception that agriculture is back-breaking, unprofitable work for an old, tired generation,” said Kaunda. Kaunda also says that while agricultural work yields financial benefits, it still requires a firm commitment to hard work.

Establishing a Positive Change

On March 26, 2018, the Innovative Zambian Youths Organization (IZYO) institution planned to an entrepreneurship summit for Zambia’s youth. Joseph Maimba (the institution’s CEO) said this is part of the Zambian government’s effort to close the unemployment gap among the country’s young people. The summit will be begin on April 5, 2018 and focus on helping Zambia’s young entrepreneurs develop new skills.

Zambia’s government sees the potential of its young people to develop the country’s economic standing, and many entities will continue to focus on creating employment for Zambia’s youth

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Supporting Global EducationThe global youth unemployment rate is a concern, especially for global business leaders and nonprofits that advocate for lowering the poverty rate. As of 2016, there were 71 million unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the International Labor Union (ILU). There are many ways to fix this problem, but one way to help unemployed youth in developing countries is by supporting global education.

This is a problem that affects all the countries of the world, but is especially hard on youths in developing countries. The increased number of unemployed youths in developing regions such as the Caribbean, Latin America and Western Asia had a great impact on the overall increase of the global youth unemployment rate, while numbers of youth unemployment rate in developed countries stayed about the same. Additionally, many jobs that youths can get in developing countries are low-paying jobs. The ILU estimates that 38 percent of working youths are living in extreme poverty (less than $3.10 a day).

Supporting global education is an investment in the youths of developing countries. With an education, the younger generation can learn the skills they needed to get higher paying jobs. A report conducted by the International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunities found that 40 percent of employers worldwide had difficulty finding people with the required skills for their job openings. By investing in global education, more people can enter the workforce with in-demand skills and find more opportunities. In the long run, this enables the economy to grow and helps the country develop.

One organization supporting global education is Global Partnership for Education (GPE). GPE focuses on developing countries and brings together teacher organizations, private foundations and international organizations in order to strengthen educational systems. GPE’s goal is to make inclusive education accessible to everyone by the year 2030.

GPE is just one organization that is focusing on education to lower the unemployment rate of youths. If students in developing countries can access and gain the skills they need for jobs, the poverty rate for those developing countries will improve.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

IBM is investing $70 million in building digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills among youth in Africa in order to support a 21st-century workforce. The initiative, “IBM Digital – Nation Africa,” will provide a cloud-based learning platform offering free skills development programs for up to 25 million African youth over the next five years. The IBM investment is part of their global push to equip the next generation with the skills needed for “New Collar” careers, a term used by IBM to describe non-traditional careers that require sought-after skills in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data science, cloud and more, rather than a traditional four-year college degree.

The IBM investment will offer programs ranging from basic IT literacy to advanced IT skills development to enable digital competence and sprout innovation in Africa. The platform is geared to raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of developers able to tap into cognitive engines and enable entrepreneurs to grow businesses around new digital solutions.

The program will run through a free, cloud-based online learning environment delivered on IBM Bluemix and will allow users to learn a wide range of skills, from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills. Users will even have access to career-oriented topics including programming, cyber security and data science. The initiative aims to empower African citizens by giving them the educational tools to design, develop and launch their own digital solutions. The program will run in English and is completely free of charge.

In Africa, just 25 percent of people have a bank account, but 75 percent have access to a mobile phone. There is no doubt that technology plays a huge part in Africa’s future development, and that with this much-needed technological revolution will come an influx of job opportunities. Programs such as that from the IBM investment will ensure that the youth of Africa are equipped for such opportunities that are quickly arising.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr

Development Strategies
Beginning Jan. 30, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum provided a stage to engage youth in sustainable development dialogue with the Member States and to share their experiences and approaches to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In his opening remarks at the two-day event, Peter Thomson, President of the 71st U.N. General Assembly, emphasized the role of today’s youth in global development strategies.

“Our best chance of achieving the transformation to a sustainable way of life must lie in ensuring that young people are fully engaged and that they are empowered as innovators in our development processes,” he said.

He went on to say in the “Assembly Achieving the SDGs: Harnessing the Power of Youth” panel that young people should also consider their involvement in global development an investment for their generation’s future wellbeing.

“Youth will be the adults of tomorrow when the 2030 agenda comes about,” Thomson said. “So everything we’re working on at the moment is in a way more relevant to youth than the people of my generation.”

During “The Role of Youth in Promoting Food Security and Zero Hunger” panel on Jan. 31, Alpha Sennon, founder of Trinidad and Tobago‘s youth-centric agriculture program WhyFarm, highlighted some methods to promoting sustainable food security to youth. Examples include exposing younger children to pro-sustainability art and music.

“If we could get young people to sing these positive lyrics, it would have an impact on what they do, what they want to become when they grow up, simple actions,” he said.

In regards to older youths, Sennon said the best way to get teens involved in agricultural development initiatives is to appeal to their pre-existing interests and skill sets.

“If you already have a skill… we will take that skill and make you an entrepreneur for agriculture and food security,” he said. “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s make it spin.”

Working with youth in sustainable development is especially relevant considering how unemployment, underemployment and inequality disproportionately affect youth. According to the International Labor Organization, 37.7 percent of working youth are in extreme or moderate poverty, compared to 26 percent of working adults.

An ECOSOC Youth Forum side event entitled “Education and Poverty Eradication: NGO Youth Leaders at the Forefront” also convened on Jan. 31. The session included an interactive trivia panel regarding SDG Goals 1 and 4, which pertain to global poverty and education.

During the panel, Radja Benmansour, an intern at Department of Public Information and NGO Relations, stressed the importance of treating young people as equals when addressing youth in sustainable development.

“To get youth involved, you first need conversations, and you need to be persistent,” she said. “Another way is to ask what they want to see changed in their communities. Not only have them be actors but have them be the main solution makers.”

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

At-Risk Youth in Morocco Given Great Opportunity
Youth facing unemployment in Morocco are extremely vulnerable to a life of crime and drugs and USAID refuses to let this continue.

Issues in the education system have led to dismal circumstances for youth in Morocco, and this government agency is striving to help those already affected by the problems while simultaneously working to solve the root of them.

In the country of Morocco, most students enrolled in the first grade are not predicted to graduate. Drop-out rates are high although 97 percent of children are currently enrolled in school. Moroccan students rank as some of the lowest on international test scores.

Change has become necessary in order for the at-risk youth in Morocco to be properly educated and prepared to provide for themselves and their families.

USAID has partnered with government and nonprofit organizations to implement plans for reform. Research in 2015 suggested that poor and limited teacher training along with a minimal amount of additional reading materials for students were the two main causes of the students’ poor test results.

The Reading for Success-Small Experimentation program has the following three main focuses: a different approach to teaching Arabian phonics, new training guides for teachers and instructors and summer reading activities to cut down on the loss students encounter over the summer months when not in school.

The program began in September 2015 and is set to run until March 2018. It will introduce over 9,000 students in the first and second grade to a new approach to reading, have 180 teachers complete the reformed training and develop effective guidebooks as a resource for teachers, coaches and instructors as they navigate this new approach.

Working even harder to affect real and lasting change, the final goal of the program is to have 800 students participate in the summer reading programs. The Washington Post quoted First Lady Michelle Obama when she said, “research shows that if kids take a break from learning all summer, they not only miss out on new information and skills, they can actually lose up to three months’ worth of knowledge from the previous year.”

The new implementations for summer learning in Morocco will not only help students retain knowledge from the previous year but also equip them for another year of prosperous learning.

But what about the kids who have already finished elementary school?

USAID is also working to help the older youth of Morocco, who make up one-third of the country’s population. Of this one-third, 40 percent do not have jobs and/or are not currently enrolled in school.

The government has partnered with USAID in the cities of Tangiers and Tetouan to provide unemployed youth with vocational training. Their activity, the Favorable Opportunities to Reinforce Self-Advancement for Today’s Youth, began in 2012 and works to increase confidence by training youth in professional skills and giving academic support such as tutoring.

It is doing more than teach skills; this program is giving at-risk youth in Morocco purpose. One student participating in a sewing class in Tangiers told a USAID deputy assistant administrator that “if it wasn’t for this program, [I] would most certainly be on the street selling drugs.”

Morocco is making incredible progress as 12,000 youth are being mentored through this program, and those still enrolled in school are given more and more opportunity for success. The education and vocational skills given to one-third of this nation are sure to positively impact the other two-thirds as well.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Youth Skills Gap
On July 15, the U.N. celebrated World Youth Skills Day. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for sustained investment in youth skills to help achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Across the world, a huge generation of young people is entering the workforce.

Unfortunately, many of them lack the skills necessary to have successful and engaging careers or even to be gainfully employed. Those aged 15-24 make up 40 percent of those unemployed worldwide, even though they only make up 18 percent of the global population. Many of those who are lucky enough to be employed are working jobs that provide little in the way of remuneration or protection.

The inability of young people to find good jobs is a major contributor to continuing poverty. This poverty, in turn, plays a powerful role in breeding both localized violence and global extremism. Addressing this situation calls for many responses, one of which is attacking the global youth skills gap.

In the today’s economy, digital and communicative skills are in demand but schooling, especially in poorer countries, often emphasizes traditional skills, meaning that educational models that may have been successful in the past are in danger of becoming outmoded.

According to a survey from the Asian Development Bank, communicative and language skills are seen as being most valuable. More broadly, in many places, there is a significant mismatch between the skills needed for work and the skills that people have.

Fortunately, there are many steps that can be taken to address the youth skills gap head on. According to the World Economic Forum, social and emotional learning (SEL) provides children with the framework they need to adapt to a wide array of situations in their future careers.

Training children to adapt to different situations, rather than over-focusing on specific skills that may or may not be useful, increases their readiness to participate in a wide range of careers.

The World Bank has sought to address the issues of the youth skills gap and youth unemployment head on through a variety of individual programs. From the Caribbean to South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa, these programs have helped increase employment and provided youth with skills of lasting value.

Efforts to improve the effectiveness of education, direct job training projects and job-search assistance are just a sampling of the work being done to bridge the gap.

Like so many contributors to global poverty, the youth skills gap is anything but an intractable problem. Rather, with the concerted effort of individuals, governments, businesses and multilateral organizations it can become less and less of an obstacle to shared prosperity.

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

UN Calls for Action After Rise in Youth Unemployment
With youth unemployment predicted to rise for the first time in three years, the United Nations is calling for increased efforts to increase sustainable employment.

The newest information comes from a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) titled, “ World Employment and Social Outlook 2016: Trends for Youth.” The data indicates that the youth unemployment level is set to rise to 13.1 percent in 2016, a rise of over half a million people. It will likely remain at that level through 2017.

Even more troubling, says the ILO, is that approximately 37.7 percent of working youth remain in moderate to extreme poverty. This is alarming in comparison to the 26 percent of working adults.

Deborah Greenfield, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy explained in a statement that these figures could make it difficult to reach the development goals set by the U.N.

“This research also highlights wide disparities between young women and men in the labor market ,” she added.

However, the ILO, in conjunction with 21 entities in the United Nations, is making an effort to support youth in the labor market by developing the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. This collaboration works together with governments, the private sector, academia and civil society to scale up the impact investments can make on youth unemployment.

The initiative is partnering with the Partnership for Action on Green Economy to ensure the creation of “green” jobs in the marketplace. They are also working with the Global Apprentice’s Network to create quality apprenticeships. The focus is on targeting youth in fragile states and in the informal, rural and digital economies.

Even though the U.N.’s latest report is certainly troublesome, it by no means represents the final state of affairs for youth unemployment — especially not with organizations such as the ILO and the U.N. working tirelessly to change things.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr