Youth unemployment is not only a problem in developing countries: young people all around the world face the challenges of unemployment and underemployment. The global youth unemployment rate was at 13.1 per cent in 2013, meaning that 74.5 million young people are out of work. Also, youth are more likely to be engaged in informal employment compared to older workers and transitions to decent work are slow and difficult. Furthermore, youth often face special difficulties and hindrances when establishing or developing their own businesses. For example, access to finance is often lacking: due to their perceived high lending risk and lack of collateral, young people often cannot access the credit needed.

To address the above sketched global challenge of unemployment as well as underemployment that young people are facing around the globe, the overall goal of the Youth-SWAP in this thematic area is to:   

Ensure greater opportunities for youth to secure decent work and income over the life-cycle, contributing to a virtuous circle of poverty reduction, sustainable development and social inclusion.

Achievements have been made on a global, regional and national level, contributing to the following commitments identified in the Youth-SWAP:

  • Enhance national capacity to develop gender-sensitive strategies for decent work for youth. 
  • Support the improvement and enforcement of rights at work for youth and implement employment and skills development programmes to ease the transition of disadvantaged youth to decent work.
  • Support institutional reforms for an enabling environment conducive to youth entrepreneurship, including access to markets, finance and other resources.
  • Strengthen mechanisms for promoting youth entrepreneurship, in particular for young women.

For details on specific activities, joint programmes, achievements and progress at the global, regional and country levels, please read the 2014 System-wide Action Plan on Youth Report, available here