LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (ILO News) – Despite increased economic growth, the inability of economies to create enough decent and productive jobs is hitting youth especially hard, experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia concluded at a meeting here on 6 and 7 December.
The “Subregional Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Decent Employment for Young people” was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs of Slovenia and the International Labour Office (ILO) to discuss how economic growth can be accompanied by the creation of decent employment for young people.
Recent ILO research on the youth labour market in the Western Balkans and Slovenia shows that on average, youth unemployment rates are at least double those of the population in working age (Note 1). In some countries, the youth unemployment rate has skyrocketed during the transition period reaching 62.3 per cent in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 59.8 per cent in the FYR of Macedonia and 58.2 per cent in Montenegro.
According to the research, youth unemployment is not only persistently high but also long-term in nature: on average more than three quarters of unemployed youth have been looking for a job for more than one year.
What’s more, the jobless growth path is compounded by the additional burden of large numbers of youth who are underemployed or engaged in precarious work, often in the informal economy. Almost 69 per cent of young workers in Albania and around 60 per cent of young workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are employed in the informal economy.
The ILO research points out that informality affects mainly less educated young people. It also highlights that informal work and precariousness are more a dead end than a stepping-stone into decent employment for young people. Many young workers get trapped into a spiral of precarious jobs. For instance, the ILO research found that in 2006 the share of temporary work of the overall workforce in Croatia was 12 per cent, while that of young workers was 51.1 per cent.
Young women hold a stronger share in temporary employment than young men. In Slovenia, 51 per cent of women under 30 work on temporary contracts compared to 38 per cent of male workers of the same age.
The experts on youth employment discussed national practices as well as strategies and action to be taken by their governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to further expand and sustain the promotion of decent employment for young women and men both at national and regional levels. They emphasized the need to improve policy coherence on youth employment and suggested that governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations make youth employment a national priority by placing it at the heart of economic and social policies and by adopting national action plans on youth employment.
Participants at the meeting also reaffirmed that effective action on youth employment requires “an integrated and coherent approach that combines interventions at the macro- and microeconomic levels and addresses both labour demand and supply and the quantity and quality of employment” (Note 2). They stressed the importance of efficient and equitable youth employment policies to be put into place to overcome difficulties that young people face in gaining and maintaining decent employment.
The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Government of Slovenia will follow-up on the promotion of youth employment through a series of forums on youth employment during the upcoming Slovenian Presidency to the Council of the European Union. Decent employment for young people will also be the subject of an Informal Ministerial Meeting of the Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs of the European Union that will take place in June 2008 during the ILO’s annual International Labour Conference in Geneva.
Note 1 - The ILO is conducting an analysis of the youth labour market and of the policies, programmes and institutions affecting youth employment in the following countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Note 2 - ILO: Resolution and Conclusions of the Committee on Youth Employment, adopted on 15 June 2005, ILC 93rd Session, Geneva, 2005. /public/english/employment/yett/download/ctpr20en.pdf.