Nations facing existential crisis on youth unemployment

A global youth employment vacuum is presenting world economies with an “existential crisis”, as governments fail to create sufficient opportunities for young generations, warns UAE minister of state Reem Al Hashimy

A global youth employment vacuum is presenting world economies with an “existential crisis”, as governments fail to create sufficient opportunities for young generations, UAE minister of state Reem Al Hashimy told a philanthropy summit in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

With some 3.5 billion people aged over 15 likely to be searching for a full-time job by 2030, according to consulting group McKinsey, and a global market where roughly only 1 billion roles are on offer, finding ways to ignite job creation is a crucial step in underpinning future economic growth, the minister said.

“The global economy creates much more demand for talent and labour than [the 1 billion jobs] but chooses to fill the balance with casual or part time jobs that are typically insecure, poorly paid and have no real career structure,” said Al Hashimy, speaking at the Emirates Foundation Youth Philanthropy Summit.

“That leaves the majority of adults unfulfilled frustrated stressed or depressed. There is a shortfall that may go a long way to explain the level of instability witnessed in so many places on earth.”

More practical focus should be placed on tackling the employment deficit for future generations, Al Hashimy told delegates. Society has to be willing to invest in the future of its workforce through counselling, mentoring and genuine internship opportunities. These need to offer real world experience and expose young job seekers to dynamic and engaging workplaces, she said.

“They are all simple things, but far from easy to achieve.”

While jobs alone will not be the sole answer to resolving conflicts, they play a crucial role in providing young people with hope for the future.

“We’re all a lot better off if every young person has a job, sees hope for the future and sees opportunity,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps, speaking on the sidelines of the event. “[The] ability to provide for oneself and one’s family is absolutely critical to that.”

Keny-Guyer believes that working or volunteering with nonprofits could help young people to build skillsets, teaching them a curiosity for growth and learning while also improving their ability to work in a team. He also sees cultural intelligence - an ability to appreciate and be sensitive to other cultures – as a vital part of what humanitarian experience can offer young people seeking to enter the labour market.

“[You need] to be open to what you can learn, to look at the things that connect us not divide us,” he said.

“Those things you will develop [if you work with an aid or humanitarian organisation]. And those are also the same skills that are important in today’s world to be successful in the private sector or in government. Those are what we want in our leaders – to be smart, to be emotionally secure and sensitive to others and to appreciate and embrace cultural diversity.”