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ILO warns of rising unemployment, crisis for young jobseekers

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The number of people seeking work around the world will rise by more than 13 million by 2018, hitting young people disproportionately, a study claims.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Global Employment Trends 2014 report calls on governments to implement employment-friendly policies and tackle a worldwide youth unemployment rate of 13.1% – more than two times higher than the overall global unemployment rate of 6%.

The rate has risen from 12.9% in 2012 and 11.6% in 2007. The organisation estimates 74.5 million 15 to 24-year-olds were unemployed globally in 2013.

Among the 40 countries for which data is available on young people classed as NEET - 15 to 29-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training – the UK is ranked 22 from the bottom of the table, a rate of just above 15% as a proportion of the population. It is higher than in Portugal, Estonia and Lithuania, among others.

The report’s authors warn economic recovery has failed to improve labour markets because profits being made in many sectors were mainly going into asset markets, damaging long-term employment prospects.

ILO director-general Guy Ryder called for an urgent policy re-think. “Stronger efforts are needed to accelerate employment creation and to support enterprises that create jobs,” he said.

The report highlights that overall unemployment rates in the UK have declined. It says unemployment peaked in 2012 at 8%, and estimates this will fall to 7.3% in 2014 and 7.1% in 2016.

However, the report warns that high or rising NEET rates are a major concern for policymakers, as this group is neither engaged in employment nor investing in skills development.

It suggests young people within the NEET category may be less engaged and more dissatisfied with their societies than their peers who are employed or in the education system.

Global management company Accenture is one business trying to tackle youth unemployment in the UK and around the world.

It works with charity Youth Business International to promote entrepreneurialism, as well as running youth training programmes in the UK.

Accenture’s corporate citizenship lead for the UK and Ireland, Camilla Drejer, said the ILO report reinforced the need for businesses to play an active role in alleviating youth unemployment.

“As the ILO report illustrates, times are extremely tough, especially for young people in this current climate,” she said.

“The lack of jobs globally means that entrepreneurs are more important than ever as they will create new businesses and jobs for their peers and their communities. That’s why Accenture created Skills to Succeed, our corporate citizenship initiative, which aims to equip 500,000 people by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business.

“Youth Business International is one of our global Skills to Succeed partners and together we work to support young entrepreneurs through mentoring, funding and training to ensure their business is a success.”

Drejer said among the main barriers to young people finding employment was lack of confidence and knowledge about how the job market worked.

“In response to this, in the UK we have recently launched the Skills to Succeed Academy, a free interactive online training programme designed specifically for young people and which develops their employability skills through the whole journey of seeking, finding and keeping a job,” Drejer said.

The ILO’s report also warned that although it forecast an additional 200 million jobs would be created globally by 2018, this would not absorb the growing number of new entrants in to the labour market.