In the Spotlight - Youth Employment

In the Spotlight - Youth Employment


There are 1.8 billion young people aged 15-29 in the world today. Most have to contend with a precarious labour market, with the prevalence of unemployment, underemployment and informal jobs. If these young people are to successfully transition into adulthood, with secure livelihoods, youth and especially youth employment must be a key priority of the development agenda.

Therefore, ensuring that youth, and especially young women, have opportunities for decent employment is one of the greatest development challenges of this generation. And the challenge is only growing, as the global population is projected to increase by 2.4 billion by 2050, of which 1.3 billion will be in Africa. However, if youth are provided with the opportunity to successfully enter the labour market with a decent job, they can drive a country’s long-term development.

It goes without saying that young people in developing countries want good jobs. However, reality often disappoints, as while 80 % of students aim for a highly-skilled profession, only 20 % of graduates actually obtain one.

Youth Employment infographics



Young people are agents of development and change and, as such, are essential contributors to the 2030 Agenda, including through their ability to innovate. Neglecting their education, employment, social and political needs will undermine the achievement of the SDGs and leave them vulnerable to crime and radicalisation, particularly in situations of conflict.

The EU and its Member States will focus on concrete actions to meet the specific needs of youth, particularly young women and girls, by increasing quality employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, supported by effective policies in education, vocational training, skills development, and access to digital technologies and services.

New European Consensus on Development

Creating a better future – policies for youth inclusion and well-being

Over the past few years the EU in partnership with the OECD Development Centre undertook an extensive youth inclusion project to explore policies for youth in developing and emerging economies, with a specific focus on 9 countries: Cambodia, Côte d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Jordan, Malawi, Moldova, Peru, Togo and Viet Nam.  The global studies carried-out focused on youth entrepreneurship, youth aspirations and rural youth livelihoods.

The project looked at the needs of youth and in particular youth employment from a multi-sectoral perspective, with the aim of supporting countries to better respond to the aspirations of young people and strengthen youth involvement in national development processes.

The project shed light on what determines youth vulnerabilities and successful transitions and enhances national capacities to design evidence-based policies that promote youth employment, inclusion and well-being.

Watch a short video that explains the project here.

The outcomes of the youth inclusion project took centre stage at this year’s OECD Global Forum on Development – The power of 4 billion, inclusive agendas for women and youth – you can watch the proceedings here, where Rupert Schlegelmilch, EU Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the EU to the OECD took part.

Five guidance notes were developed for development practitioners in ‘Better policies for better youth livelihoods’ summarising the main findings from the global and country research.
The five guidance notes are:
  1. 1. Reducing skills mismatch;
  2. 2. Promoting entrepreneurship and decent rural youth employment;
  3. 3. Improving sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth;
  4. 4. Making civic participation inclusive;
  5. 5. Delivering on youth priorities through national youth policies.
All the policy tools and research of the EU-OECD Youth Inclusion project:

Policy toolkit:

Global research:

Country-level research: