Sunday, January 23, 2011

Youth Unemployment: An International Problem



Young people have borne much of the brunt of job losses during the recent global downturn.

Coping with unemployment is difficult for anyone. But for disadvantaged youth lacking basic education, failure to find a first job or keep it for long can have negative long-term consequences on their career prospects -- what some experts refer to as “scarring.”

From 2006 to 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reviewed the youth labor markets in 16 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Summary and Main Recommendations for the United States is available at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/30/44161929.pdf

Three key points, when it comes to the United States:
  • At-risk youth are often left behind  when it comes to school-to-work transitions
  • These youth often remain disconnected from the workforce for many years
  • Labor market programs that target the needs of disconnected youth are underfunded
Approximately five million young adults in the United States are “disconnected youth;" defined by WIA as low-income youth who face one or multiple challenges to employment or learning.

Quote from OECD report: "Not only are the vast majority of youth currently in this at-risk group not receiving the support they need to reconnect to education and the labour market, but their number is likely to increase significantly in the wake of the current economic crisis if urgent action is not taken."

OECD Recommendations include: 
  • Holding high schools accountable for the workforce and college readiness of their students
  • Promoting the use of apprenticeships for teenagers (for example, in Michigan's School-to-Registered Apprenticeship Program)
  • Encouraging small employers in rural areas to join together and train youth apprentices 

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