In pursuit of Youth
When I think of Youth, I think of;
– the time of life when one is young; especially : the period between childhood and maturity, the early period of existence, growth, or development
– young persons between adolescence and maturity
– the quality or state of being youthful
– the good old days
History can tell us many stories of (wo)man’s relentless pursuit of its own youth, but why do we want to hold on to the past so badly? Or shouldn’t we stop holding on to our “Youth”?
Maybe we should stop holding on to the time when we were considered the youth of our societies and instead focus on our current youth who hold the key to our future.
The youth of today faces different challenges from the world I grew up in.
Their physical and virtual world has become massive, and we need to understand that this complex “Web” holds the key to engage with them in these changing times.
The Work Web
The transition period into work life marks a critical period in the lives of youth all over the world. It indicates a crucial stage of independence, the application of their education, their ability to be social and economic productive and it gives them a look into their own potential in terms of earning capacity, job options and the possibility of advancement.
With less experience and fewer skills than many adults, youth often encounter particular difficulty accessing work. The employment scenario for youth has been worsened by the lingering global economic crisis, and the current situation of youth employment poses an urgent challenge with long-term implications for both youth and their societies.
The global youth unemployment rate, which has long exceeded that of other age groups, saw its largest annual increase on record in 2009; at its peak, 75.8 million young people were unemployed. Developing countries are home to 87 % of the world’s youth, who are often underemployed and working in the informal economy under poor conditions.
Africa has the youngest population in the world with almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 and it keeps growing rapidly. Although many jobs have been created, there have not been enough to accommodate the number of young people in search of work. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that between 2000 and 2008 Africa created 73 million jobs, but only 16 million for young people aged between 15 and 24. As a result, many young Africans find themselves unemployed or, more frequently, underemployed in informal jobs with low productivity and pay. Of Africa’s unemployed, 60% are young people and youth unemployment rates are double those of adult unemployment in most African countries.
The costs of inadequate employment are high. Poverty is the most obvious consequence. On average 72% of the youth population in Africa live with less than USD 2 per day. The highest rates of poverty can be observed among young women and young people living in rural areas. But the costs go much deeper. The first years in the labour market, the skills developed and the experience then accumulated considerably affect young people’s future professional development. Long spells of unemployment or underemployment in informal work can “permanently impair future productive potential and therefore employment opportunities” For the few that manage to obtain a formal sector job, which offers increasing wages, initial unemployment can have significant negative effects on lifetime earnings. Without urgent action to modernise their economies, African countries risk wasting the tremendous potential offered by their youth.
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