UN launches global job initiative for youth, focus on agri and rural economy

The United Nations has launched a programme to generate decent jobs for youth and to assist in their transition from school-to-work amid the global youth employment crisis – characterised by unprecedented levels of unemployment, poor quality and low paying jobs

The focus will be on creating employment opportunities for the youth in agriculture and rural economy.

“Today, two out of every five young persons of working age are either unemployed or working jobs that don’t pay enough to escape poverty. The trap of working poverty affects as many as 169 million youth. In low-income countries, the situation is even worse where nine in ten young workers remain in informal employment which is sporadic, poorly paid and falls outside the protection of law,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), while launching the the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.

Under the lead of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Initiative was developed by 19 international organizations that are committed to increasing the impact of youth employment policies and expanding country-level action on decent jobs for young women and men.

Globally, young people account for approximately 24 percent of the working poor — this dynamic is particularly pronounced in Africa, where over 70 percent of youth subsist on $2 per day or less, the UN food agency said in a statement.

The Food and Arigulture Organization (FAO) said that of the estimated 200 million unemployed people in 2014, 37 per cent (or 73 million) were between the ages of 15 and 24.

The new UN Global Initiative aims to address the prevailing high levels of youth unemployment by scaling up action across the UN system and in all sectors of the global economy.

FAO will be leading one of the eight thematic areas of the strategy, on Youth in the Rural Economy, while contributing to others.

The majority of rural youth are employed in the informal economy as contributing family workers, subsistence farmers, home-based micro-entrepreneurs or unskilled workers, th FAo said, adding that they typically earn low wages, are employed through casual or seasonal work arrangements and face unsafe, often exploitive working conditions that compel many to migrate to urban areas – or abroad.

According to the FAO, some 1.2 billion youth live in the world today – just over 14 percent of the global population. Almost 88 percent of these young people live in developing countries – a figure that is expected to increase over the coming decades. Asia alone is home to 60 percent of the world’s youth, while a further 18 percent live in Africa. Within Africa, 61 percent of the entire population are under 24 years of age.

It said that there was a need to make greater efforts to integrate young people in rural economies to promote food security and sustainable livelihoods.

“Today, most of the world’s food is produced by ageing smallholder farmers in developing countries, while a new generation of food producers needs to emerge and have access to new approaches and technologies needed to feed the planet’s growing world population while protecting the environment,” it said.

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