How do we create more jobs for young people?

Lars Thunell
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How do we create more jobs for young people? This is arguably the most pressing question facing policy makers across the world today, given turbulence in the global economy and the vocal discontent expressed recently in countries where employment opportunities are scarce.

Most young people who are jobless live in developing countries. The challenge of youth unemployment is especially acute in the least-developed countries, because young people in these countries account for as much as half the population. There are many reasons why jobs are scarce—including inadequate policy making, poor infrastructure, and limited access to finance. For young people in particular, the mismatch between education and the needs of the labor market is a major hurdle. This was one of the findings of e4e, an education for employment initiative for Arab youth led by IFC (International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group) and the Islamic Development Bank.

At IFC, we recognize the key role that the private sector can play in creating a long-term solution. Our work is focused on developing countries and emerging markets—where the private sector accounts for 90 percent of all jobs. Working with our clients, we aim to play a vital role in facilitating job creation.

This is why I and my colleagues on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Employment believe the private sector is the crucial link in any successful plan to align the skills of young people with the demands of the labor market.  Private sector leaders must work together with government officials, international agencies, civil society organizations, and youth to improve education and vocational training.

On the demand side, we must address the regulatory obstacles to job creation and access to finance for small and medium-sized businesses.We believe that the public and private sector can work together to develop innovative partnerships and business models, mentorship and traineeship programs between various stakeholders. Beginning with a few pilot countries, we can demonstrate how this inclusive approach can be effective. We know many things about job creation, but we at IFC don’t profess to have all the answers. We aim to deepen our knowledge through a study we’re conducting on job creation. We also want to hear from you—so please join the conversation here or through the essay competition that we are co-sponsoring with the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.

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