Message by ILO Director-General on the occasion of International Youth Day
Since Youth Day 2010, from Tahrir Square to Puerta del Sol young women and men have been central actors in a broad-based social mobilization that speaks of profound dissatisfaction with the state of our world.
This year’s theme “Change our world” is fitting at a time when millions of youth across the globe are calling for decent jobs and better opportunities, security and fair growth. They are striving for the freedom to choose and to contribute to a world with social justice and peace.
The situation remains grim with youth unemployment at an all time high globally. Some 81 million young workers are officially unemployed and many more are discouraged from seeking work. More than a quarter of all young workers – 152 million earn less than the equivalent of US$1.25 per day, often in the informal economy. Their reality is most likely a future of poverty no matter how hard they work.
This situation reflects the poverty of present strategies that are failing to produce the quantity and quality of jobs needed – for young people as well as for adults. They are also falling short in terms of the education and training, the protection and support that can enable young people to get on to the ladder of opportunity and contribute to economic and social development.
There are costs for individuals, families, economies and societies. Human potential and productive potential are lost, social cohesion and stability are undermined. In the area of social security, the non-accumulation of pension entitlements undermines the contributory base of current systems, generating a social liability of unprotected people for the future.
At the ILO’s International Labour Conference in June this year, young leaders identified areas for collective action related to the world of work that could help change the future for young people including: better training and education and measures to prepare young people for the labour market, encouraging youth entrepreneurship and enterprise development, effective implementation of international labour standards and the defence of labour rights, the engagement of youth in social dialogue, and sharing experience on tackling youth unemployment and migration challenges. They advocated integrated approaches in view of the multidimensional nature of the challenges facing youth and a strong appeal was made for fundamental change in approaches for realizing social justice.
World leaders urged the Conference to take urgent action on youth unemployment. Similarly, the recent UN High-Level Meeting on Youth called for a global strategy on youth employment, focused on enhancing employability and creating decent jobs with full respect for human rights.
It is time to act, to build societies where young people have a stake in the present and in the future. Let the energy, the creativity and dynamism of the world’s youth inspire us all to change our world for the better: let us commit to promoting decent work for young women and men in a new era of social justice.