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ILO opens International Forum on “Employment, Youth and Democratic Governance”, calling for more and better jobs for young people

At 14.4 per cent, the youth unemployment rate is double the general rate, and 60 per cent of young workers are in informal jobs. Eminent personalities are meeting in Lima to take part in the Forum.

News | 13 December 2011

Lima, Peru (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) called today for increased efforts to improve the employment situation of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, where high unemployment and informality lead to frustration and discouragement, raising challenges for governance.

Secretary General of the OAS (left), Minister of Foreign Relations of Peru, ILO Regional Director

José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Rafael Roncagliolo, Minister of Foreign Relations of Peru, participated in the opening ceremony of the two-day Forum, together with Elizabeth Tinoco, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Forum was also attended by Dagoberto Lima Godoy, representing the Employers, and Amanda Villatoro, representing the Workers.

“Urban unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean decreased to 7 per cent in 2011 – a level that has not been seen since the mid-1990s,” said Tinoco in her opening address, referring to the region’s successful recovery from the 2008-09 crisis.

However, she stressed that the purpose of the Forum was “to reflect on what can be done in the region to address the potential impact of another crisis, how it would affect employment, and especially youth employment, social programmes and investment flows, and how States should respond in order to maintain governance and protect citizens.”

The Lima Forum, said Tinoco, focused on young people because “if society does not create jobs for them, they tend to lose confidence in democratic institutions. Their unemployment rates are high everywhere – double or triple the general rate – and they have to settle for precarious, low-paid jobs.”

The ILO Regional Director pointed out that the youth unemployment rate in Latin American and the Caribbean was currently 14.4 per cent, and that six out of ten young persons managed to find jobs only in the informal economy.

“Youth unemployment and underemployment prevent us from using the potential of the most highly trained and educated generation we have ever seen, impeding development. There are also major political repercussions. Starting with the Arab Spring, 2011 has been a year of youth uprisings that have spread globally, from East to West,” recalled Tinoco.

She highlighted the importance of public policies to address those challenges, saying that the ILO, in consultation with the policy stakeholders in the region, would participate in developing a youth employment platform enabling a systematic approach to the promotion of those strategies.

“Young people have taken to the streets, asking democracies for answers. They want opportunities. Let us listen to what they have to say and act accordingly,” she concluded.

José Miguel Insulza

The Secretary-General of the OAS reflected on the continuing relevance / validity of democracy in a region in which it was “the only legitimate form of government,” although independent surveys appeared to indicate that citizens were not necessarily satisfied with what they were getting.

Insulza pointed out that they felt that democracy had “failed to deliver,” and recalled that despite the progress made in recent years, persistent problems remained, such as poverty and inequality.

Other participants in the Forum included: Nicolás Eyzaguirre, Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Luis Miguel Castilla, Minister of Economy and Finance of Peru; Arturo Valenzuela, Professor at Georgetown University and former Assistant Secretary of State of the United States; Eduardo Brenta, Minister of Labour and Social Security of Uruguay; and Franklin Chang, former astronaut and President of Ad Astra Rocket Company.

The new Minister of Labour and Employment Promotion of Peru, José Villena, is to participate in the closing ceremony.

For more information:

See the website of the International Forum “Employment, Youth and Democratic Governance”

Press contact:

Luis Córdova, ILO press officer