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Global Youth Unemployment Crisis Addressed At Davos

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 1/27/2012

WEF gathering in Davos calls for innovative solutions to prevent an entire generation of workers being turned away from the global workforce.

At the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the ManpowerGroup (NYSE:MAN) and other forum participants are drawing attention to the need for more innovative solutions to the youth unemployment crisis, citing the potential for an entire generation to be excluded from the global workforce.

Employment Trends for Young People

This call comes on the heels of a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) earlier this week in which it was revealed that 74.8 million youth aged 15-24 were unemployed in 2011. Globally, young job candidates are approximately three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, a fact that is underscored by a current youth unemployment rate of 12.7% -- a full percentage point higher than the pre-recession rate.

"As business demand has slowed down, there have been fewer opportunities due to shrinking numbers of entry-level positions, and because there is a mismatch between the skills workforce entrants possess and the specific skills businesses require," said Jeff Joerres, ManpowerGroup Chairman and CEO. "This creates a dangerous scenario where young people are being locked out of the learning curve and their ability to contribute to society is significantly diminished."

Although the root causes of youth unemployment are complex, employers consistently cite lack of experience as a significant factor in their decision to hire adults rather than younger applicants. During challenging economic times, many employers are unwilling to take on chance on inexperienced young workers, many of which lack the communication or critical thinking skills to effectively market themselves to employers.

To avoid the exclusion of an entire generation of young people from the labor market, it will be necessary for both young people and private sector employers to identify more innovative solutions to the youth hiring crisis. For example, WEF's Global Shapers, is a network of individuals aged between 20-30 who have an entrepreneurial track record and work collaboratively to promote opportunities for young workers and encourage young entrepreneurs. Similarly, WEF's TEN Youth Project encourages emerging multinational companies to train, employ and mentor young people.

"The scale of this issue requires a dedicated and focused effort to succeed, and there is shared responsibility among all stakeholders to nurture a fresh generation of skilled talent where currently one does not exist," said Joerres. "We can create opportunities for youth by incentivizing entrepreneurship within the public and private sectors, along with providing the required tools and training to ensure they acquire the skills they need to make themselves more appealing to employers."

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