Over 100 young trade unionists, entrepreneurs, NGO members and activists got together at the ILO Youth Employment Forum that opened today in Geneva, to discuss how best to tackle the global jobs crisis that has left 75 million youth jobless.
Carlos Cisneros, from the International Vanguard Network of Ecuador, welcomed the initiative saying that while youth employment is regularly discussed at the international level, young people are seldom involved in those discussions.
Young people are three times more likely than adults to be jobless. Youth unemployment rates are at peak crisis levels and are not expected to drop in the next four years. “We need action. We need job opportunities for young people”, said Suheir Tabanja, from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) at the Forum.
In 2011, more than half of young women and one third of young men aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, according to an ILO report to the June 2012 session of the International Labour Conference (www.ilo.org/ilc).
Over 100 young men and women are taking part in the Youth Employment Forum, sharing their experiences. These are some of their voices:
Keselyn Lizama (Belize), of the World Scout Organization: “This Forum is good because it involves all levels of employment – you have the employers, you have the workers and you have the organizations that work for both employers and for the workers. This gives us a better understanding of how you can change employment trends, and how this can help us move forward and can improve our economy. It’s good to learn how other countries are dealing with some of the same problems we have in Belize, like youth not being able to matriculate based on finances or graduating from university, getting a masters, and still not being able to get a job.”
Ada Luz Lopez Jimenez (Honduras), works for a youth programme: “People from all over are sharing examples of good practices, how to reach the communities, organizations involved with the youth are sharing their experiences. We now want to see how we can implement some of these ideas, set up a methodology to support the youth and ensure these policies reach local governments.”
Mutaba Ngoma (Zambia), bio-diesel company owner: “I just want to learn how to provide better employment for my workers and staff. Also, as a representative of the Alliance for Youth Entrepreneurs in Zambia, I was interested in learning about practices that can help us train entrepreneurs to provide better employment opportunities.”
Joana Bernice Coronacion (Philippines), unionist with the Alliance for Progressive Labour: “This is an opportunity that will bring concrete solutions to address the issue of unemployment. This Forum addresses issues that different countries face with regards to employment, like precarious work which puts the future of young people at risk, the future of a generation we call the hope of the nation. The economy is not producing enough jobs for the people entering the labour force and the most affected are the young people. And, there are also other issues, such as underemployment and skills mismatch.”