Young blood's sweat, tears and fears

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am


Across the world, millions of young jobseekers are struggling to find employment. Youth joblessness inched up this year, with the current levels moving closer to the latest 2005 peak, according to the latest International Labour Organisation (ILO) update on global employment trends for youth.

The report states that nearly 74.6 million youths, or 12.7 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 hunting jobs, will not be able to find work this year - up from 12.6 per cent in 2011 and an increase of more than 4 million since 2007. Youth unemployment last peaked in 2005, when 77.9 million of them were out of work.

Further, the immediate future offers little respite, with the trend of joblessness expected to hold strong until at least 2016. 'Medium-term projections [2012-16] suggest little improvement in youth labour markets. By 2016, the youth unemployment rate is projected to remain at the same high level,' the report added.

East Asia's robust economic performance has not helped spare its young jobseekers: this year's youth unemployment rate for the region is 9.3 per cent, compared with 9 per cent last year, and 8.9 per cent in 2010. Young men - 10.3 per cent of the total - were more affected than young women (7.1 per cent). The numbers are expected to climb to 9.8 per cent in 2016. Last year's figure was 2.7 times higher than that of the adult unemployment rate.

The ILO placed Hong Kong's youth unemployment rate at 16.6 per cent in August last year, almost five times the total then unemployment rate of 3.2 per cent. Young men (9.5 per cent) were more affected than women (7.1 per cent). According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Board's 'Quarterly Report on General Household Survey', the number of unemployed persons in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups stood at 11.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent in the final quarter of 2011, respectively, and 12.6 per cent and 7.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

Not all employed youths could land their dream job, however. Many, especially in the developed economies, are having to make do with temporary, part-time and low-productivity work arrangements that do not require the skills they have trained in. Some, especially in developing countries, were doing unpaid work supporting informal family businesses or enterprises.

With the inclusion of these two groups, the 2011 global figure rises to 13.6 per cent, or 75.4 million unemployed youths. There will be further pressure on the job market when this group decides to enter it, warned the ILO, which suggested tax breaks and other incentives for businesses hiring young people, and offering more entrepreneurship programmes to help kick-start careers.


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