Youth unemployment is an increasing worldwide crisis. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that 71 million 15 to 24-year-olds around the world are unemployed, many of whom are facing long-term unemployment. To put this number into perspective, youth unemployment is “close to an historic peak” of 13 percent.
The youth unemployment crisis impacts low-income countries the most because even employed citizens are at risk of poverty. In 2016 the ILO estimated that about 156 million employed youths in these countries lived in poverty. This makes up a substantial 38 percent of youths in developing nations.
For the sake of the world’s economy as well as these youths, here are four potential solutions to the youth unemployment crisis:
- One of the main causes of the youth unemployment crisis is the lack of quality education worldwide. It was reported in 2016 that about 40 percent of employers find it difficult to recruit people with needed skills. This is because about 250 million children worldwide do not acquire basic reading, writing and math skills. Therefore, nearly one in five youths do not gain the most basic skills needed for employment. By ensuring quality education globally, students will be able to acquire skills needed for gaining employment.
- A significant number of youths cannot acquire the education needed for employment because of crisis and conflict. An estimated 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 currently live in countries that are in conflict. These children are twice as likely as their counterparts to have no access to quality education. Thus, to resolve the youth unemployment crisis by allowing youth to get jobs, crisis and conflict in war-torn countries must first be dramatically reduced.
- To resolve the youth unemployment crisis, the focus must also shift toward gender equality in education. Gender distribution in the international labor force is woefully disproportionate. According to the ILO, 53.9 percent of young men compared to 37.3 percent of young women are employed. This is due in part to cultural beliefs regarding working women, but also has to do with a lack of women’s education. Globally, 61 million young women are not enrolled in primary or lower-secondary school, giving them little opportunity to gain skills for employment. This includes literacy, as “two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women.” Therefore, addressing gender inequality in education is a necessary step towards reducing youth unemployment.
- Aside from reforming education, tackling youth unemployment will also take commitment to funding research, educational programs and employment programs. In order to finance these programs, funding for education needs to increase to $3 trillion by 2030. As the current investment in education stands at $1.2 trillion, reaching this goal requires large-scale cooperation. This means that companies, governments, non-government organizations and schools must form partnerships to invest in research and solutions to youth unemployment.
Resolving the youth unemployment crisis is critical for not only the well-being of youths worldwide, but also for the global economy. Mass youth unemployment slows progress and thereby it is essential to take steps toward ending it.
– Haley Hurtt