7.1 Integrate youth perspectives, opinions, and experiences into research efforts
Recent global research on youth employment fills major knowledge gaps and provides YEO stakeholders with valuable information needed to shape policy and programs. Youth consultations enhance that research, ensuring that youth perspectives are included in the developing knowledge base. In many cases, the consultations themselves serve as important events to connect policy-makers with their youth constituents and rally support for young people. Additionally, consultations with young people serve to:
- Ground high-level research in the local realities of diverse groups of young people
- Check assumptions about the factors that drive young people’s economic decision-making or explain local and global trends
- Chart how policy and programs impact young people’s economic opportunities over time
The International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations specialized agency that seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally-recognized human and labor rights, organized youth consultations related to its 2012 International Labour Conference in Geneva. Over 46 national and regional consultations with young people with close to 5,000 participants complemented the Youth Employment Forum held at ILO Headquarters in Geneva in May 2012. Although the themes and perceived constraints varied depending on national context, there were some recurrent issues and barriers that young people consistently discussed. They include:
- A growth model too dependent on capital-intensive or extractive industries strangles opportunities, as does a deficient environment for entrepreneurship.
- Low-quality jobs such as temporary contracts and part-time work are as much a problem as too few jobs. Limited access to social security was frequently cited when young people discussed low-quality jobs.
- The skills mismatch challenge, referring to the lack of continuity between education and employment, was also recognized.
- Inadequate information services for job matching and ineffective career guidance services make it difficult and costly for young job seekers to anticipate employment opportunities and to signal their skills and availability to potential employers.
- The “work inexperience” trap was widely discussed, referring to the paradoxical situation where young people are not hired because they lack work experience and they lack work experience because they are not hired. Participants discussed the strengths and weaknesses of possible solutions to this, such as apprenticeships, internships, and incentives to employers to hire inexperienced young workers.
- Young people also mentioned limited access to entrepreneurship education and training, and limited access to financial, physical, and social capital; the lack of venture capital and angel investors; and the absence of incubators or proper IT infrastructure.
- Young people stressed that effective youth employment initiatives should engage them in policy dialogue and in concrete platforms, partnerships, and programs.
- Finally, social discrimination and stereotyping were widely discussed, whether based on gender, race, or ethnicity.
For more information, download the report entitled: The Youth Employment Crisis: A Call for Action at http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/texts-adopted/WCMS_185950/lang--en/index.htm.