Achieving decent work for youth is a challenge shared by all countries across the world, including those of the Caribbean. On average, young women and men are two to three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Within the international community, the ILO has a special role to play in promoting youth employment. With its expertise, tripartite constituency and global alliances, it can act as a catalyst in mobilizing support and implementing integrated policies and programmes to effectively meet the Millennium Summit Declaration’s commitment on decent and productive work for youth.
The ILO's leading role in the UN Secretary General's Youth Employment Network (YEN), a global partnership of the World Bank, the United Nations and the ILO - provides a major opportunity to build international consensus and influence the international agenda with a comprehensive strategy for the employment of young people. Jamaica is among nineteen countries globally that have stepped forward to volunteer as lead countries for the YEN. As lead countries they have committed themselves to take the lead in the preparation and implementation of National Action Plans for youth employment.
The Youth Employment Network of Jamaica (J-YEN) was launched in September 2005 after the formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the President of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), the President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) and the Minister of Labour and Social Security. The JEF Secretariat co-ordinates the work of four working groups.
The ILO's work in this area includes research on the nature and dimensions of youth employment, unemployment and underemployment; policy advice to strengthen labour market policies and programmes on youth employment; as well as establishing strategic partnerships on youth employment between the private and public sector. In the Caribbean, for example, the ILO has provided technical assistance in reviewing the policies, practices and institutional arrangements for the training and employment of young persons in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.