general manager of World Employment Confederation.
The economic ups and downs of the past two decades are well known. From the bursting of the dotcom bubble to the financial crisis of 2007 to the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy has faced quite a few challenges. And while these events were often followed by recovery, the long-term effects, particularly those on young people, were not widely managed effectively.
Youth unemployment rose by 12% over the past two decades and through 8.7% in 2020 alone, according to UNICEF and the World Economic Forum. These statistics point to a worrying trend towards creating a lost generation of workers if policymakers and industry leaders fail to resolve the issue of youth unemployment and employability.
With youth employment Drop 8.7% compared to 3.7% for adults in 2020, I see a widening skills gap as one of the fundamental drivers of this gap. Young people simply do not have access to the skills needed for today’s job market. A report from Generation Unlimited, PwC and UNICEF Points out the mismatch between skills and education and training programmes, especially with regard to the different levels of internet access for young people worldwide.
The private labor sector knows better than anyone the adverse effects of a skills shortage. Many are discovering a growing mismatch between the skills their businesses need and the skills that the young possess – a situation exacerbated by the global pandemic. I believe bridging the gap between employer and employee needs crucial question facing the labor market today.
Skills, reskilling and upskilling are key issues we can address to reduce economic disenfranchisement among young workers. Mt sentiment echoes Henrietta Fore, former UNICEF executive director, who pleaded that “governments and businesses must work together” to give younger workers “the skills and opportunities they need to access meaningful work and thrive in today’s job market.” Without action we are faced with creating a lost generation.
It is justified that being unemployed as a young adult is a adverse effects on your mental health and well-being, both then and later in life. Studies have shown that the unemployed are more likely to suffer from: symptoms of depression. Youth unemployment therefore needs to be tackled through a wide range of policies from key stakeholders. Employers, policy makers and educators need to address youth employment and the growing skills gap. In this regard, I view private employment agencies as institutions that are often best placed to help young workers navigate the changing world of work.
Entering the job market can be intimidating for young people with limited experience, and they need holistic support to give them the best chance of success. Private employment agencies need to work intensively with diverse talent pools, including young people, to access good, fair employment opportunities and to reduce the chance that young people will feel pressured into jobs that do not match their skills and interests.
The benefits that temporary work agencies offer are apparent from the fact that the share of young people in temporary work is higher than in the total labor force, according to my organisation’s figures Social Impact Report 2021. In particular for students, who, according to the same report, include the above: one fifth of all temporary workerstemporary agency work can provide them with the flexibility, professional experience and income to support their studies.
Another way for companies to tackle youth unemployment is to promote a combination of work and learning for young workers entering the labor market for the first time. For example, learner programs are a well-regulated resource in both The United States and the European Union that can help your company reduce the labor shortage. These programs provide a financial incentive for young workers and businesses, while also producing the skilled workforce they need.
Collaboration and engagement are the only ways we can avoid a real crisis of a lost generation of workers. The solution is to involve the younger generation by encouraging access to institutions and programs such as employment agencies or apprenticeships. In this way, we can ultimately close the skills gap and help with labor shortages.