What is it?
Jobs are at the heart of a country's growth and a person's security and livelihood. Economic growth isn't possible without jobs and opportunities.
People around the world say that finding a decent job would help them escape poverty, according to Voices of the Poor, a World Bank survey that captured the perspectives of poor people. Studies confirm this -- the vast majority of people who escape from poverty do so by starting their own business or finding work in an existing one, according to the 2006 Doing Business report.
Most employment is in the private sector, which accounts for more than 90% of jobs in most countries. Private businesses help increase production and help countries grow more. But in many countries, laws and regulations (good legal systems, fair tax policies) aren't developed in ways that let the private sector thrive and compete globally.
Complicated and costly regulations often drive people to operate businesses in the informal economy. This means that while they don't pay taxes, they also lack access to credit and better utility services that could help their business expand. It also means they don't provide any benefits (health and pension) to their employees.
In many developing countries today more than half of the population works in the informal economy, mostly women and young and inexperienced workers.
Why should I care?
A billion people will reach working age within the next decade. Many aren't entering the workforce.
- Young women and men on average more than three times as likely to be unemployed than older generations
- Most young people who do work are in vulnerable employment, often without health and other social benefits
- Unemployment is even higher for young people who have disabilities, are female, or belong to minority ethnic groups
Most jobs available to youth are low-paid, part-time, insecure positions, with few benefits or prospects for advancement. These jobs often don't provide enough income to cover basic necessities.
When young people can't find meaningful, productive and secure jobs, this can lead to wider societal problems:
- More poverty among youth
- Delays in marriage and starting a family
- Feelings of being marginalized, excluded and frustrated which can lead to behavior that imposes a burden on society
- When young people, especially men, feel that there is no prospect of finding a job they are more likely to drop out of school
What is the international community doing?
World leaders resolved during the 2000 UN Millennium Summit to "develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work." Youth employment is important to reducing poverty. The Youth Employment Network was created as a result. It is a global alliance to support countries in developing national action plans on youth employment.
International organizations such as the International Labour Organization work to promote opportunities for women and men, including young people, to obtain decent and productive work.
Other organizations, such as the World Bank, work to promote development of private business and sound government systems. This helps countries grow and create job opportunities for all people.
Also, international development banks, including the Bank and non-governmental organizations, provide microfinance to poor people. Microfinance includes small loans that help poor people who wish to start or expand small businesses but are not able to get banks to lend to them. This helps poor people get access to savings, credit and other financial services.
Microfinance stimulates self-employment and provides young people with entrepreneurial skills that provide them with livelihoods and improve their life prospects considerably.
What can I do?
- Learn more about laws and regulations in your country. See if they are fair, transparent, and business-friendly. If not, get involved to help improve them.
- Find your national Chamber of Commerce to learn more about the private sector in your country and about the opportunities and difficulties that businesses face.
- Think about what it takes to become an entrepreneur and find creative ways to start a business.
- Contact the Youth Employment Network and learn whether your country has a national action plan on youth employment.
- Check out the Youth Employment Summit (YES), an international youth organization that's empowering youth to create sustainable livelihoods.
For more information: Jobs in the World Economy