A huge army of young hands and brains, but no work, is an economic waste, says an International Labour Office (ILO) report, Global Employment Trends For Youth 2004. It puts the global youth employment rate at 14.4% in 2003, a 23% rise in the total number of unemployed young people over the past decade.
Whats more, half the worlds unemployed are under 24. Although young people represent 25% of the working age population, they made up 47% of the 186 million people without work worldwide in 2003, the report added.
It warned that massive unemployment among the youth could turn into a social menace, thereby breeding vulnerability and feeling of exclusion and worthlessness. This, in turn, may lead to personally and socially destructive activities.
As in many other studies on social trends, women, yet again are the more disadvantaged lot here too. They form a majority of the unemployed young poor. Even those among them who do find jobs, face long hours, short-term contracts, low pay and little or no social protection.
Among regions, West Asia had the highest youth unemployment rate in 2003 at 25.6%, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa at 21%. The lowest was in East Asia (7%) and the industrialised economies (13.4%).
The only region where youth unemployment saw a notable decrease, from 15.4% in 1993 to 13.4% in 2003, was the industrialised world.
The relative disadvantage of youth is more pronounced in the developing countries, where they make up a strikingly higher proportion of the labour force than industrialised economies, the report says. In fact 85% of the worlds youth live in developing countries and are 4.1 times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
It calls for a combination of targeted as well as integrated policies on youth unemployment, especially in the developing countries, which have the largest share of youth within the working age population.
The fate of youth entering the labour force in years to come will depend both on economic growth rates and on improvement in the employment content of growth, the report says.