Celebrating the power of youth and trade
Never before has there been as many youths as there are today. And never before has youth made up the majority of the population in countries across the world, especially in countries affected by conflict. A growing recognition of the impact of youth and their right to have a say on the future we want is the background to the commemoration of International Youth Day on 12 August.
Every year since 2001, International Youth Day has been marked across the world on 12 August under a different theme. This year’s celebration is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.
Achieving this means empowering youth economically and tackling the root causes of youth unemployment to avoid lost generations.
Globally, 600 million jobs will be needed over the next 15 years to absorb the current number of unemployed and provide job opportunities to the approximately 40 million labour market entrants – mostly young people – each year. A big issue, too, is that many young people are simply giving up, as evidenced by the growing number of so-called NEETs, youth who are ‘not in education, employment or training.’ In many places, these jobs will mean the difference between a demographic dividend and a social time bomb.
Overall, least developed countries are home to 90% of the world’s people aged between 15 and 24.
These are some of the reasons why tackling the issue of youth economic empowerment is high on the agenda of many international organizations, including the International Trade Centre (ITC), and why youth has been embedded into several of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, above all in Goals 1, 4, 5 and 8.
ITC and youth empowerment
Globally, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) accounts for more than 90% of all enterprises and over 70% of employment. ITC works to empower young men and women with skills that make them more attractive to employers, allow them to start their own companies, or improve access to international markets.
However, working only at the enterprise level has limited effect on the long term. As such, ITC’s Youth and Trade Programme, also works with policymakers and trade support and investment institutions (TISIs) to ensure long-term economic and employment growth.
Policymakers are supported to take youth aspects when designing export strategies. They are also encouraged to identify skills gap along value chains and to make greater efforts to better connect young entrepreneurs with larger companies.
Similarly, TISIs are empowered with skills that allow them to better connect young entrepreneurs to markets: this included agriculture in The Gambia and e-solutions in Morocco and Senegal.
Partnerships are also important, that’s why ITC is an active member of the Global initiative on decent jobs for youth.