Providing measures against youth unemployment as a consequence of the global crisis

Key terms


Unemployment occurs when a person who is actively searching for employment is unable to find work. Unemployment is often used as a measure of the health of the economy. The most frequently cited measure of unemployment is the unemployment rate. This is the number of unemployed persons divided by the number of people in the labor force.


Youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group.
Youth makes up 17% of the world's population. There are 1,2 billion youths in the world aged between 15 and 24. 87% of youth live in developing countries. Also they make up 40% of the world's unemployed and while the Global Adult Unemployment rate is 4,5%, the Global Youth Unemployment rate is 12,6%. With that, a youth' risk of being unemployed is three times higher than of an adult. Close to 75 million youths worldwide were unemployed in 2012. Middle East and North Africa have the highest youth unemployment rate with about one in four without a job. A total of 357.7 million youths, resulting from 16.7 million in developed and 341 million in developing countries, were without education, employment, or training in 2010 and the number is increasing. Also in 2012, 536 million of employed youths in developing countries were underemployed, compared with 1,5 million in the 27 EU countries.

Causes of Youth unemployment

Quality and relevance of education

Education is often not adequatly tailored to the needs of the labour market, which means that firms are unable to hire the skills they need. Combined with the inability of many economies to create sufficient jobs, it has resulted in an increasing number of the educated unemployed. Education is the key to a decent job, yet high education does ot guarantee a decent job. While in 2012, in 25 out of 27 developed countries the highest unemployment rate was among people with primary education or less, in Tunisia, 40% of the university graduates are unemployed compared to 24% of the non-graduates. Highly educated young females are increasingly vulnerable in some countries. In Turkey, the unemployment rate among university educated women is more than 3 times higher than that of university educated men, in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, it is nearly 3 times, and in Saudi Arabia, it is 8 times higher.

Population growth

High population growth rates, especially in the Middle East, North Africa and sub-saharan Africa, have increased the number of youths entering the labour market. Between 1970 and 2010, the population of the Arab countries nearly tripled, and with that the amount of workforces within these countries.

Economic crises

During economic downturns, young employees are not only the “last in“, but also the “first out“, since it is more costly for employees to lay off older workers. Youth workers are less likely to have had company training, have fewer skills and are often on a temporary contract. During the economic crises between 2008 and 2009, there has been a rise of the unemployment rate from 11,8% to 12,7%.

Discouraged youth

More than 6 million youths have given up looking for a job. Prolonged unemployment entails a higher risk of future unemployment, as prospective employers have a negative perception of youths, who have been without employment for a long period of time. Discouraged youths give up looking for work and are in danger of feeling useless and alienated from society.

Lack of National Comprehensive Policy Framework

The priority given to youth unemployment is on the rise in 138 countries. However, only 35 countries have adopted action plans and only 4 countries have identified a budget for the implementation of youth employment priorities in their national employment policies.

Deficiencies of Labor Market Institution and Policies

In general, a high level of employment protection regulation can have an adverse effect on youth workers as firms would rather hire more experienced workers if they are less able to fire them during a downturn. Strong increases in minimum wages have been argued by some as having a negative impact on the employment of youth.

Youth Underemployment

Even when youths are employed, they may not be in good jobs. In the developed world they are often on temporary contracts to make it easier to lay them off, or they are "underemployed" in jobs below their qualifications. In the developing world, low levels of education, the lack of job creation and insufficient social protection mean that many youths are also under-employed, engaged in low-income self-employment, informal jobs or unpaid work. 1.52 billion people – seven times more the number of unemployed – are estimated to be invulnerable employment in 2011.

  • 32% of young employees were on temporary contracts in 2011, compared to 8.9% of adults.
  • In 2010, 42.1% of young people in the 27 EU countries were working in temporary jobs, while 47% of youth in sub-Saharan Africa were unpaid workers.
  • Youth in developing countries account for23.5% of the working poor.
  • More than 200 million youths are poor, earn under US$ 2 a day, although they have jobs and are mostly employed in the informal sectors of developing countries

Solutions to Youth Unemployment

The Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment is advancing solutions to improve youth employment and entrepreneurship in three dimensions: Innovations to scale, Implementation at the national level and Inspiration through a global campaign.

Scalable innovations to secure first employment

Committed to developing and testing scalable innovations that allow youths to get their first jobs or become successful young entrepreneurs, the Ten Youth Mentoring and Apprenticeship Program encourages companies to invest in "M&A" (Mentoring and Apprenticeship) support for first-time hires, and provides concrete tools for this.

Building on its first pilots in the United States and Nigeria, Youth Trade connects young entrepreneurs with markets for their products, thereby addressing a key obstacle for young entrepreneurs – the lack of access to markets.

National youth employment strategies

More countries around the world need to implement national youth employment strategies that demonstrate a shared vision, clear objectives and metrics for success, supported by resources that will significantly and tangibly increase youth employment. The Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment is committed to develop such a strategy in Cambodia and countries in Africa over the coming year.

Global campaign

Youth unemployment affects developed and developing countries alike. As awareness of and information on the global impact of youth unemployment are rising, it is more urgent than ever for global decision-makers to take inspired, comprehensive, coordinated action to make youth employment a national priority. Youth employment campaigns should bring policy recommendations and proven solutions to the attention of business, government and civil society leaders, urging concerted action to help move millions of skilled youths into jobs and create new employment through business creation and opportunities for self-employment.

Youth Policies and Programmes

Over the past decade, several countries have initiated processes of designing and implementing national legislation and strategies focused on youth. However, most countries today have no public policy relating specifically to young people. Furthermore, even for those who have developed this rather new form of legislation, too often it is piecemeal and lacks a comprehensive approach to the challenges faced by the younger generation.
Consequently, there is a great need to share experience in this specific field of public policy and to produce tools to assist Member States in addressing youth issues systematically.

Empowering Youth through National Policies – UNESCO's contribution

With a view to supporting Member States in developing and implementing integrated national youth policies and programmes, UNESCO developed a set of guidelines covering policy formulation, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.
These guidelines are addressed to national decision-makers of two main kinds: those wishing to formulate a national youth policy and those wishing to evaluate and improve already existing youth policies and programmes. However, we are not seeking to promote a template to be rigidly applied to every national context. Given the wide diversity of political cultures and political systems, countries need to establish their own priorities and mechanisms in order to create a youth policy that is authentic and relevant.

Capacity-building programmes for national authorities and youth organizations

With a view to supporting national authorities in the development and implementation of a cross-cutting national youth policy, UNESCO developed a series of training modules highlighting the requirements of and challenges involved in ‘mainstreaming’ the rights and needs of young people as well as good practice examples of youth-adult partnerships.
UNESCO also works with a variety of youth organizations, thus supporting them in becoming effective and valued partners in policy planning, implementation and evaluation.

Raising the awareness for the protection of children and adolescents and setting guidelines for the prohibition of child labour and child prostitution


According to UNICEF children not only have the rights to health, nutrition and education, but also to protection, freedom of violence and exploitation, and to ''a safe and supportive environment''. Worldwide, 126 million children have been deprived of these fundamental rights and are forced to work in hazardous conditions, often having to endure beatings, humiliation, and sexual violence by their employers.

Child labour is the illegal employment of children below the age of 15, where they are not directly under the sole responsibility of their parents or legal guardians. The child's work often endangers their life, safety, health and morals or hinders them from their education. The impact of child labour often causes irreparable damage to the child's physical and psychological development.

Definition of Key Terms

Human Trafficking – the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour or for the extraction of organs or tissues.

Adolescents – children aged 10 – 19 years

Exploitation – the use of something, especially for profit

Sexual Violence – is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone's will

General Overview

Child Labour

Child Labour is a worldwide problem, but it mostly affects children in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) or developing countries. Even though the number of children involved in child labour of any kind is declining, it still affects about 16% of all children – in the age group of 5-15 – living in developing countries. These children often become involved with this work due to family pressure or to support their families, themselves, or both. 60% of all working children live in Asia and 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa where the means to improve living standards and decrease child labour are often not attainable.

The type of child labour is the most important determinant of the incidence of work- related injuries. Around 6 million work-related injuries occur annually, resultion in 2.5 million fatalities every year. Most economically active children work in the agricultural business where crushing accidents, amputations, and fractures account for 10% of all work-related injuries. If children work in the brassware and glass-bangle industry, they may be exposed to high temperatures and risk accidents caused by cuts or burns. If they work in the carpet industry, children will often be exposed to chemical hazards, inhalation of wool dust – which is often contaminated with biological agents – and inadequate working postures.

Low income, poverty, and poor educational institutions are the driving forces behind the prevalence of child labour worldwide. Many families, especially those in developing countries, need extra income or cannot afford to send their children to school, so they send them to work. Because of their long work hours, the children often lack in time for education and mostly cannot attend a school at all, severely damaging their chances of escaping the vicious circle of poverty.

Child Prostitution

One of the worst forms of Child Labor is Child Prostitution, where a child or an adolescent up until the age of 18 is offered or offers itself for sexual relations, in return for – most commonly – money, employment or education or also for their basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing or safety. Again, causes for this are often poverty, social and economic exclusion, a low educational level, and lack of information about the risks of commercial sexual exploitation. Only about 10% of all children involved in child prostitution have a pimp, while 45% got into the business through friends. Such children are commonly poorly paid or unpaid, kept in unsanitary conditions, denied access to proper medical care, and constantly watched and kept subservient through threat of force.

It is known that worldwide around 10 million children are involved in child prostitution and that each year at least another million young adolescents become prostitutes. In some countries, 10-12 year old girls service men in the sex industry and are forced to have sex with them 10-15 times daily and in extreme cases up to thirty times a day. Often no means of protection are used, so STDs such as but not limited to HIV and AIDS spread around quickly also because children are more susceptible to these diseases.

Possible Approaches

A big factor in why there is so much Child Labor or prostitution is a lack of education. It would be a good place to start by having the state government and possibly also international organizations or initiatives to build schools and sponsor these in order to ensure children with no money for education to attend school and even further a free access to higher academics.

Often orphans or children living in the slums are forced to go into child labour, whether it is in industrial work or prostitution. Orphanages could receive yearly funds to house more children, and have a sort of specialized scouts go through the streets and take in any orphans or children in need of shelter, food, etc.

In the worst cases, child labour is a basic need for families to survive. In order to keep the children safe, work hours need to be strictly limited so that children have adequate time for rest, training and education, leisure activities and family contact. You should prohibit night work and work that is excessively demanding, whether physically or psychologically. Try to establish and strengthen mechanisms to monitor working and living conditions and furthermore, ensure effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence.

Delegates could try to set the guidelines for the prohibition of child labour on international standards so that there can be no loop holes to jump through due to the different prohibitions on this conflict varying from country to country.

In our generation, the Worldwide Web is the greatest source of information. Internet campaigns and documentaries can be launched to spread awareness of the issues at hand and encourage people to help.

Progress in eliminating Child Labor and UN involvement

1919: The first ILO child labour convention

1930: The ILO Forced Labour Convention protected children from forced or compulsory labour, such as victims of trafficking, children in bondage, and those exploited by prostitution and pornography

1966: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, re-emphasizing issues of slavery and forced or compulsory labour, was adopted by the General Assembly, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights calling for the protection of young people from economic exploitation and work hazardous to their development

1989: The UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifying the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and hazardous work, and the refraining of States from recruiting any person under 15 into the armed forces

1992 – ILO created the International Programme for Elimination of Child Labour

1998 – first annual Global March against Child Labour

1998 – CBS published a documentary sensationalizing the deplorable working conditions in which Pakistani children were stitching soccer balls for the Soccer (Football) World Cup

1999: ILO unanimously adopted the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. It called for States to prevent the most damaging child exploitation practices or the worst forms that currently exist

2001 – The Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed.

2002 – first annual World Day Against Child Labour

2003 – the ILO reported that 95% of all Siallkot exports were made without the use of Child Labour

2004 – The First Children's World Congress on Child Labour

2006 – Over 1000 children marched through New Delhi on a Blackboard march demanding law for free compulsory education