Today’s youth are the most interconnected, independent and vocal generation thanks to the almost ubiquitous infiltration of mobile phones and other high-tech gadgets. This trend continues to be a powerful development for youth throughout the world. But despite the progress, youth unemployment remains rife.
In Tunisia, young people are often touted as social-media-savvy instigators of political revolution. However, an opinion poll conducted by Al Jazeera shows that the country’s new policy-makers have yet to rectify policies that originally led to the youth’s biggest concern – finding a job.
In Ukraine, before the current crisis, the Ministry of Justice allowed young people to form the European Youth of Ukraine so that their collective voice would be heard by policy-makers. But the former Ukrainian government voted against the youth-supported application to join the European Union even though it offered potential solutions to the unemployment issue, which has been bordering a crisis point since the early 1990s.
And in South Africa, young people have fiercely demanded and successfully won an equal right to tertiary education. But the current climate of unsecured lending is driving a debt cycle that is negatively affecting job creation and stability by having a direct impact on foreign investor’s confidence. Yet the loose credit system, rising cost of education and lack of employment opportunities have left a generation with an unpayable debt and high rate of unemployment.
In a survey conducted by Child and Youth Finance International on the perspective of young people around the world on their financial future, 4,000 youth from more than 140 countries unanimously agreed on what they see as necessary to become productive and happy economic citizens. They want to become employed, they want to create their own livelihoods and they want to be provided with the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to be able to do so. To turn these wants into implementable solutions, they came up with the following three calls to action:
- All children and youth should have access to quality economic citizenship education in primary and secondary school curricula; governments should ensure strategies are in place and should dedicate resources to their implementation.
- All children and youth, and their families, should have access to safe and appropriate financial services.
- All children and youth have the opportunity and ability to attain a sustainable livelihood; governments should create policies and programmes to prevent youth unemployment and facilitate entrepreneurship through special funds.
The prolific use of social media, growing acknowledgement of the need to include young people’s opinions in policy-making and increasing access to education can enable young people to have more say in the direction of their future than any generation before.
Here is an opportunity for the employed adults of today to listen to the future (un)employed adults of tomorrow.
Author: Jeroo Billimoria is Managing Director of Child and Youth Finance International.
Image: Students sit for the philosophy baccalaureate exam at the French Clemenceau Lycee in Nantes REUTERS/Stephane Mahe