7.2 Track demographics to understand which young people are most vulnerable due to their employment status

Jobs, as Martin Rama, Lead Economist of the World Bank emphasized at the 2012 GYEOC, provide more than just a paycheck. Jobs also provide a sense of social cohesion and productivity, frequently allowing young people to tap into a social safety net. The World Bank, an international financial institution dedicated to reducing poverty, in its 2013 World Development Report (WDR) noted that jobs can be “transformational—they are what we earn, what we do, and even who we are.” At the 2012 GYEOC, several presenters discussed alarming demographic trends related to unemployment that impact young people in both developed and developing economies. YEO programs can respond at both a global and local level, targeting programs to emerging demographic groups of young people who are particularly vulnerable due to their unemployment status, or who represent significant potential for economic growth if tapped for the right types of employment.

Research Spotlight: Categories of Youth Impacted by Unemployment in Developed and Developing Economies

Recent research on the youth unemployment crisis has generated growing awareness about the demographic categories of young people defined by their employment status and particular risks they might face due to that status. Several presenters at the 2012 GYEOC discussed the following categories:

Not in employment, education, or training (NEETS): José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Director for Employment of the ILO, noted that NEETS often constitute at least 10 percent of the youth population. Disconnected from both the world of work and the world of education and training, this group is extremely vulnerable to social alienation and risky behaviors such as violence, drug addiction, and gang activity. In the U.S., the NEET rate was 15.6 percent in 2010 whereas the average for OECD countries was 12.8 percent 1. In Mexico, Miguel Ángel Carreón, General Director of the Mexican Ministry of Youth, noted a gendered dimension to the phenomenon, with 75 percent of NEETS comprising young women who may also be raising a family.

Educated unemployed: Another category that has become disconnected from the world of work, or has been forced to migrate in search of opportunities, is the “educated unemployed.” These are young people who have managed to go to school and college, but for whom the transition from school to work has become longer and more insecure. In countries such as Tunisia and Spain they represent a significant number 2.

Temporary or part-time contract workers: In addition to unemployment and discouragement, the economic crisis increased the proportion of young people in temporary employment and part-time work. In many countries, temporary contracts were initially designed as a mechanism to facilitate hiring. Now, data suggests that young people in many developed economies skip from contract to contract because they cannot find a permanent job. In the European Union, for instance, the proportion of youth employees with temporary contracts increased from 35.2 percent in 2000 to 42.2 percent in 2011 3.

Farmers and the self-employed: The World Bank’s 2013 WDR notes the importance of expanding our ideas about employment to include workers engaged in agriculture or self-employment. For those workers, a job does not necessarily signify a 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. existence or social security but, at the same time, their employment plays a critical role in a productive society. Policies and programs need to be adapted to consider young people engaged in this type of work. For example, collective bargaining would not apply to many workers in this category.

For recent research on youth unemployment, see the World Bank’s 2013 World Development Report at http://wdronline.worldbank.org/worldbank/a/c.html/world_development_report_2013/abstract/WB.978-0-8213-9575-2.abstract or http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/texts-adopted/WCMS_185950/lang--en/index.htm.


  • 1. Excerpted from comments of José Manuel Salazar, Executive Director of Employment at the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the 2012 GYEOC.
  • 2. Ibid
  • 3. Ibid