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Youth unemployment: The Facts

Learn more about the global youth unemployment crisis and Plan International's unique model developed to ensure young people enter into, and succeed in, the world of work.

Whether or not youth are enrolled in school, receiving training or working, has important implications for future economic growth, development and stability. If overlooked, youth unemployment has a potential to have significant and serious social repercussions. Youth unemployment can lead to social exclusion and unrest. Investing in decent job creation however, as well as in education and training opportunities for the youth, will help them find their place and contribute to more prosperous and stable societies.

Youth Unemployment: a global problem

  • 628 million young people aged 15-24 years old are not in education, employment or training.
  • 75 million young people are trained but have no job.
  • In the next decade, one billion young people will enter the labour market, and large numbers of young people face a future of irregular and informal employment.
  • Almost 90% of all young people live in developing countries.
  • 600 million jobs are needed for young people in the next decade.
  • Youth are approximately three times more likely to be unemployed than adults (2.7).
  • Over 35% of the estimated 201 million unemployed people today are youth, although they account for only one quarter of the total working age population (ages 15-64).
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 13.1% in 2016 (71 million young people) and remain at that level through to 2017 (up from 12.9% in 2015).
  • It is estimated that 23% of young people currently employed in the world earn less than $1.25US a day.

The specific barriers faced by girls and young women to secure decent employment

  • Girls and young women make up the majority of the world’s 628 million young people who are not in education, employment or training.
  • Unemployment is affecting young women more than young men in almost all regions of the world. In Northern Africa and the Arab States, the female youth unemployment rate is almost double that of young men, reaching as high as 44.3 and 44.1%, respectively.
  • There were 52.6 million domestic workers in the world in 2010, of which 80% are women. Women are more likely to engage in “invisible” domestic work outside the home, which is poorly considered and regulated.
  • More than two thirds of all child domestic workers are girls. They are vulnerable to exploitation and violation of their rights.
  • According to the World Bank, in 90% of countries there is at least one law that is acting as a barrier to economic equality for women. Their research also highlighted that in 18 countries a woman has to ask for her husband’s permission to work.
  • In the world, women earn on average 24% less than men, and more than 30% less in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
  • Gender norms are one of the main obstacles faced by girls and young women when they want to access education or the world of work. Working with families, community and religious leaders, men and boys is crucial to challenge these social norms and attitudes.

What is Plan International doing to promote Youth Economic Empowerment?

Finding solutions for Youth Employment and empowering young people to access decent work is one of Plan International EU office main priorities.

Plan International is committed to promoting girls’ economic empowerment

Plan International consistently recruits a majority of young women to participate in all its Youth Economic Empowerment programmes, and encourage them to work in non-traditional sectors. It also aims to change gender norms that hold young women back, by always embedding gender equality within its trainings, and working with parents, communities and employers, so that they become facilitators of young women’s economic empowerment. This enables Plan International’s Youth Economic Empowerment programmes to be truly gender transformative.

Plan International’s unique approach to Youth Economic Empowerment

Plan International developed a unique approach to Youth Economic Empowerment: the Youth Employment Solutions model, which follows a six step process and is adapted to the local context of every country Plan International works in.

The model begins with a labour market scan, which aims to identify companies’ recruitment needs, the situation of the youth, and the mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need to find a job. The content of the trainings is developed based on the findings.

Young people follow trainings in essential soft and hard skills, such as career counselling, life skills, and work and technical skills. They are either trained to be ready to work in a specific sector, or to become entrepreneurs. Plan International then helps bridge the gap between training and employment by supporting young people finding a job placement or starting their own enterprise.

After the training, Plan International continues to monitor the progress of each youth for a minimum of six months to ensure its programmes have long lasting positive effects. Enrolling youth in an alumni network also helps Plan International connect youth with valuable job-related resources, assess the results of its programmes and adapt them if necessary.

The strategic partnerships formed by Plan International with other civil society organisations, decision-makers and most importantly the private sector, are key to the success of its Youth Economic Empowerment programmes. Plan International is a founding member of the Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) coalition, which is committed to providing access to job opportunities for 150 million youth around the world.

Partnering with the private sector at the local level is essential to identify the labour market demand. It also helps raise awareness and improve the attitudes of the private sector on setting up decent working conditions, promoting youth employability and gender equality.

Where does Plan International promote Youth Economic Empowerment?

Plan International promotes Youth Economic Empowerment in more than 45 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas.

World map of countries implementing youth economic empowerment programmes