Latin America: the land of the young people who neither study nor work

Despite the efforts and good intentions of the leaders and governments of the region, Latin America remains as one of the places where there is more youth unemployment

Latin America: the land of the young people who neither study nor work

The figures are quite worrying, youth unemployment triples the unemployment rate of the rest of the population. Even with the characteristics of the young people of this generation, being the most educated and trained, the employment opportunities are becoming scarce and precarious. As a result, this is affecting not only the quality of life of these people, but the opportunities for the development of society in general.

Leer en español: Latinoamérica: la tierra de los ‘Ni – Ni’

Three years after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, the world and especially Latin America continue to fall short in the mission of generating employment opportunities for young people. The figures of the International Labor Organization (ILO) show that contrary to the purpose of mitigating this problem, it has worsened and the precarious conditions of youth employment have increased. On the one hand, due to the lack of formal employment and favorable conditions for young people. On the other hand, because the majority of those who manage to work do so in informality and under unfavorable conditions.

Precisely, the International Campaign of Youth Employment Decade refers to a report entitled “The World Employment and Social Outlook - Trends 2018", in which the ILO ensures that young people under the age of 25 are less likely to work than adults. It also explains that the global youth unemployment rate stands at 13% for the current year. That is, three times more than that of adults that is 4.3%, which means that in 2018 the path for young people seeking employment will continue to be difficult.

A discouraging panorama

According to the data of the ILO, it is estimated that currently there are some 20 million of young people in Latin America who neither study nor work, also known as 'Ni - Ni' (‘Ni estudian, ni trabajan’, in Spanish), largely due to the lack of opportunities in the labor market. This lack of opportunities is the result of factors such as: the limited job offer for young people, jobs that are not consistent with their needs and expectations, and that the labor market has not yet fully adapted to the changes in the dynamics of work today, thus generating the disinterest of young people towards the forms and styles of work of more than 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

In 2017, youth unemployment rates rose to worrying levels, showing that in the labor markets of Latin America and the Caribbean there are still situations of lack of opportunities for those who start their working lives and seek work to develop it. According to the Regional Director of the ILO, José Manuel Salazar, the results of the 2017 Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean report indicate that the figures on women and young people are a wake-up call to the whole region on the need to focus efforts to have a more dynamic, fair and inclusive labor market.

This is explained by considering that youth unemployment rose from 18.9% to 19.5%. That is, one in five young people are looking for work without getting it. This also means that about 40% of the unemployed population in Latin America and the Caribbean are young.

"We are talking about at least 10 million young people without jobs. Too many young unemployed people, this compromises the prospects of development and at the same time has the potential to weaken the social pacts and hinder the governability of our societies", said Salazar.

What to do then?

The ILO proposes a series of actions to mitigate youth unemployment, among which are:

  • Support the entrepreneurial spirit of young people to implement their own initiatives through micro-credit systems as "business incubators".
  • Provide efficiency and coverage to employment services, digitized sites, offices where young people are given real-time information about immediate possibilities of hiring.
  • Discuss the education need so that it is better articulated with the labor market, stimulate innovation, requalify the workforce and facilitate the certification of competences.
  • Increase the internships systems to consolidate the professional training of young people in enterprises and the public sector, and to facilitate the education-work transition.

All of the above goes hand in hand with the redefinition of work dynamics and adaptation to the new conditions of work, which will allow young people to exploit all their abilities and potential to enrich work, so that opportunities are more accessible.

Latin American Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "Latinoamérica: la tierra de los 'Ni - Ni'"

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