With global youth unemployment on the rise and over 40 per cent of the world’s active youth population either unemployed or living in poverty despite being employed, youth inclusion has become a critical social, economic and political issue. 600 million productive jobs are needed for young people over the next decade to absorb the currently unemployed and provide job opportunities for the 40 million youth entering the labour market each year.
Youth employment is the difference between a growth-boosting demographic dividend and a social time bomb. Youth between the ages of 15 to 24 representing one-quarter of the world’s population are threatened by poor employment prospects, job quality, health outcomes, education, and economic opportunities.
The countries where the EBRD works are no exception. Access to skills, under-utilisation of the workforce and skills mismatches are central challenges with implications for all layers of the economy and society.
The lack of a well-trained and motivated workforce results in high staff turnover, lower productivity, inconsistent quality of products and services and high operation costs and constitute a barrier to innovation and growth. Similarly, while businesses suffer from scarcity of skills, the absence of gainful and stable employment opportunities combined with long-term unemployment threatens social cohesion and transition.
Examples of EBRD youth inclusion projects include: investments that encourage clients to train youth, through training academies, internships, apprenticeship programmes, and more; the EBRD Youth in Business Programme which supports youth-led SMEs to access finance, know-how and advice, and infrastructure projects that promote inclusive procurement for youth.
On a policy level, the EBRD seeks to address key skills mismatches by implementing Sector Skills Councils in Countries of Operations to shape education and vocational training policies in specific sectors, promoting high-quality national skills standards and dual learning provision introduced through a public-private policy platform, and Private Sector Youth Initiatives which encourage networks of companies to introduce internship schemes for youth.