Unemployment and informality beset Latin American youth (ILO study)

Ana Isabel Paraguay
Posted March 6, 2014 from Brazil

Latin America’s 108 million young people face chronic problems when seeking a job at the start of their working lives. A new ILO study calls calls for the implementation of innovative and effective policies to counter this situation which causes discouragement and frustration.

LIMA (ILO News, Feb 13, 2014) - Latin America’s jobs-creating economic growth has not been strong enough in recent years to improve the employment outlook for young people trapped by unemployment and informality, the ILO said.

“We are faced with a political challenge that calls for a determination to apply innovative and effective policies to confront labour market precariousness,” said Elizabeth Tinoco, ILO’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, presenting a new report entitled Trabajo decente y juventud: políticas para la acción (Decent Work and Youth: Policies for Action).

"It is not surprising that young people take to the streets, as their lives are marked by discouragement and frustration because of lack of opportunities. This has consequences on social stability and even on democratic governance," Tinoco added.

The report, which compares data from 2005 to 2011, shows that at the end of this period, youth unemployment reached almost 14 per cent. Although the rate dropped 16.4 percentage points compared to 2005, workers aged 15 to 24 years are facing greater difficulty in finding a job, even more so in the case of quality jobs.

The youth unemployment rate remains twice as high as the overall rate and three times that of adults. In addition, young people represent 43 per cent of all the unemployed in the region. In the lower income group, the youth unemployment rate reached more than 25 per cent, while it is below 10 per cent in higher income sectors.

The report also shows that almost 6 in 10 young people who work are in informal employment, which generally involves low wages, job insecurity and lack of protection and rights.

Only 37 per cent of young people contribute to social health insurance, and 29.4 per cent to the pension system. Only 28.2 per cent of youth in employment have a written contract, as compared with 61 per cent for adults.

Of particular concern is the high number, about 21 million, of young people known as NEETs - not in employment, education or training.

About a quarter of these young people are seeking work but can’t find any. Twelve million of them, mostly women, do household chores and the remaining 4.6 million are neither working in the household nor looking for a job.

Meanwhile, the number of Young people who study full-time increased to 34.5 per cent in 2011 from 32.9 per cent in 2011.

“There is no doubt we have the best educated generation in history. For that reason we have to take appropriate measures to take better use their potential and give them the opportunity to start their working life on the right footing,” said Tinoco.

Source: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_235661/lang--...

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  • kellyannaustin
    Mar 10, 2014
    Mar 10, 2014


    Thank you for sharing so much information about the issue of unemployment among the youth in Latin America. Do you know or do you think access to the internet might help to alleviate some of the difficulties finding a job? Perhaps more people could be connected with employers beyond the sphere of their neighborhood or milieu! I wonder if you would be willing to compose a piece about digital issues for our Women Weave the Web Campaign? I'd love to hear your response and thoughts about how technology affects your life and the lives of women and youth around you. After all it is through technology that you've shared your thoughts already! You can find out more information about the campaign here, http://worldpulse.com/campaigns/www/how-to-participate It would be fabulous to have your voice join others as we think through issues around digital access in all its complexity.

    As you may know, there is also a prize that will be awarded to an outstanding grassroots woman and visionary voice using digital tools to effect change and advance her community work. The prize will include the 2014 Lynn Syms Prize title, a $20,000 monetary prize to be paid out over two years to support her community based work, a feature profile on WorldPulse.com, and an all-expense paid trip to speak her message in New York City. You can find more on the website, http://worldpulse.com/campaigns/www/www-women-weave-the-web-campaign-prizes

    Wishing you peace,