[Excerpt] Young women and men are among the world’s greatest assets. They bring energy, talent and creativity to economies and create the foundations for future development. But today’s youth also represent a group with serious vulnerabilities in the world of work. In recent years slowing global employment growth and increasing unemployment, underemployment and disillusionment have hit young people the hardest. As a result, today’s youth are faced with a growing deficit of decent work opportunities and high levels of economic and social uncertainty.
This report adds to growing evidence of a global situation in which young people face increasing difficulties when entering the labour force. One of the principal findings of the report is that a global deficit of decent work opportunities has resulted in a situation in which one out of three youth in the world is either seeking but unable to find work (the unemployed), has given up on the job search entirely (the discouraged) or is working but still living below the US$2 a day poverty line (the working poor). This second version of the GET Youth (see also GET Youth 2004) updates the key world and regional youth labour market indicators, but offers original research as well, including a careful estimation of the number and share of youth who work but are living in households of less than US$1 or 2 a day (the so-called youth working poor). The working poor youth estimate can serve as a proxy for income-related underemployment and therefore fits nicely within the framework presented in the report for identifying youth who are most at risk to suffering from degrees of exclusion from decent work and therefore a framework for identifying whom would benefit most from targeted interventions.
Without the right foothold from which to start out right in the labour market, young people are less able to make choices that will improve their own job prospects and those of their future dependents. This, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of insufficient education, low-productivity employment and working poverty from one generation to the next. The report, therefore, adds urgency to the UN call for development of strategies aimed to give young people a chance to make the most of their productive potential through decent employment.