ILO Zambia/Understanding Youth Employment

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This page is meant to give the reader an understanding of the challenge of Youth Employment in developing countries.This challenge is relevant to nearly all corners of society because the youth make up close to and sometimes over half of the entire population of a country.

The Challenge of Youth Employment

In many countries around the world, especially developing countries, the rate in the increase of unemployment among young people is higher than the average unemployment rate in the rest of the population. This means young people are the most vulnerable members of the labour force. Young women and men are more likely to be unemployed compared to older men and women. The United Nations defines young people as persons aged between the ages of 15 and 24. While those over 25 years are considered as adults. they are at a disadvantage compared to older workers because they lack experience and skills, as a result, they are often the last in when an organization is hiring and and first out when firing. Very often, their working conditions involve long working hours, short contracts, low pay and the majority of young people work in the informal economy. It is a against this background that the United Nations (UN) Secretariat along with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank convened to create the Youth Employment Network(YEN) which is a vehicle for addressing the global youth employment challenge.

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The UN defines young people as persons aged between the ages 15 and 24, those over 25 years are considered adults.

The YEN exists to assist in the coordination of youth employment activities by creating a network of workers' and employers' organizations, policy makers, the young people as well as other stakeholders. This is all done in an effort to pool together resources through the network in order to come up with new, durable policy and programme solutions to the youth employment challenge.

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Key points
The YEN has identified four priorities under the Youth Employment Challenge, that is, Employability, Equal Opportunities, Entrepreneurship and Employment Creation

Youth Employment Priorities


Invest in education and vocational training for young people- and improve the impact of this investment.

Equal Opportunities

All young women and men should be given the same opportunities.


The right policies and structures should be in place to make it easier for young women and men to start and run an enterprise to provide more and better jobs.

Employment Creation

Employment creation should be placed at the center of macro-economic policy.