Poverty, Unemployment and Globalization
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Adolescents are often seen as the next generation of actors on the social and economic stage. While it is true that the future economic development of nations depends on harnessing their energy and developing their skills, this view does not take account of the social and economic contribution that many adolescents and young people make today. It also fails to acknowledge that many young people are struggling to find adequate employment that can provide them with a safe foothold above the poverty line – and that their prospects of attaining such security have worsened amid the global economic malaise that has taken hold since 2007. Most young people in general are in a better position to take advantage of global development than any previous generation, due in part to improved levels of education and better health. However, many of them remain excluded from the opportunities afforded by globalization.
Lack of appropriate skills and a dearth of work opportunities are denying adolescents and youth a future of stable, productive work
Adolescence is a time when poverty and inequity pass to the next generation. This is particularly true among adolescents with low levels of education. Almost half of the world’s adolescents of appropriate age do not attend secondary school. And when they do attend, many of them fail to complete their studies or finish with insufficient skills – especially those high-level competencies that are increasingly required by the modern globalized economy.
This skills deficit is contributing to bleak youth economic employment trends. In August 2010, the International Labour Organization released the latest edition of Global Employment Trends for Youth, whose central theme was the impact of the global economic crisis on youth aged 15–24. In its introduction, the report summarized some key long-term trends in youth participation in the labour force between 1998 and 2008. Youth unemployment is a significant concern in almost every national economy. Prior to the crisis, youth unemployment rates were falling and stood at just over 12 per cent in 2008. At the same time, the youth population has grown at a faster pace than the available employment opportunities.
In 2008, youth were almost three times as likely to be unemployed as adults, and suffered disproportionately from a deficit of decent work. This is unfortunate not least because decent work can provide adolescent girls and boys with opportunities to develop and apply skills, responsibilities and resources that will be useful throughout their lives.
The above is from the 2011 State of the World's Children report. To learn more about how the economic crisis is affecting young people, check out the 2011 SOWC. The photo is of a group of youth attending a computer class run by Youth Awareness for Social & Economical Development (YASED) in Saint Frances Parish in Kanengo township of Area 25 in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. © UNICEF/MLWB2010-201/Shehzad Noorani