Unemployment is a global problem, and young people are particularly badly affected. Youth unemployment rates are twice as high as for older workers. Around one third of global youth – over 620 million young people - are not in employment, education or training. This represents an enormous lost opportunity and has serious long-term impacts not only for those young people but also for their societies and economies. In countries where the population is getting younger there is an even more urgent need to create many more jobs for the growing number of young people needing decent work. It therefore comes as no surprise that accelerating youth employment is identified as a priority within the Sustainable Development Goals.
Youth unemployment is a complex problem with many underlying causes. Among them is the widely recognised fact that many young people lack the right skills to help them transition out of education and into a good first job, or onto vocational training courses or further education. Companies wanting to grow into new markets and wishing to recruit locally report that they often struggle to find suitable candidates with the right skills. This skills gap comprises not only hard skills, ranging from basic from numeracy and literacy to specific technical skills; but also so-called soft skills and attributes. For the private sector, a skilled workforce is critical to productivity, innovation and growth. Estimates suggest that globally up to 38% of employers cannot fill their vacancies due to a lack of the necessary skills.
This online discussion will focus on the following questions:
- What are the 21st century skills young people need to make a successful transition into good jobs? Are young people currently getting these skills? How does the situation differ between developed and developing countries, between cities and rural areas, between young men and young women?
- How can companies help young people to get ready for the world of work and to find good jobs? Who should they work with? Can you share examples of successful business-led programmes or innovative cross-sectoral / multi-stakeholder partnerships that help more young people acquire the right skills to find and keep decent work?
- How can involving young people in the design and delivery of skills programmes lead to better development solutions?
This discussion is part of a Challenge on Youth Employability with the UK’s Department for International Development, Pearson, Anglo American, Citi Foundation, Barclays and BRAC. The Challenge focuses on what business can do to help more young people find and keep decent work by helping them develop the necessary skills to transition successfully into good jobs. Drawing on the experience of Challenge Supporters and the Business Fights Poverty community, we are developing a guide for business and those wanting to work with business that will gather together key ingredients for a successful private sector approach to youth skills development. This online discussion will inform the development of the guide.