Decent Jobs for Youth puts innovation front and centre at first global partner meeting

On 2 May, partners of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth launched Innovations for Decent Jobs for Youth, a two-day event featuring panels, lightning talks, and marketplace conversations about fresh and ingenious ways to scale up action and impact on youth employment. The partners – including governments, social partners, UN agencies, youth organizations, private companies and academic institutions – are united in their commitment to curb the ongoing global youth employment crisis by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The global youth unemployment rate shot up during the 2008 financial crisis and still hovers well above pre-crisis levels. Nearly 67 million young people worldwide are currently unemployed, while a further 145 million live in working poverty. Over three-quarters of young workers are engaged in informal employment, which often means low pay, erratic hours, hazardous conditions and no job security.

There is widespread recognition of the fact that these figures point to a global crisis which, if left unchecked, could have devastating effects on national economies and social cohesion. However, as is often the case with crises of this scale, so far the various interventions by multiple actors have been fragmented. The lack of coordinated action has ultimately resulted in duplication of efforts and a waste of resources.

Decent Jobs for Youth: a global solution to a global challenge. Wielding the considerable convening power of 22 UN agencies, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth has created a unique alliance of diverse stakeholders and secured commitments across a range of priority areas, such as digital skills, quality apprenticeships and green jobs. Partners are committed to pooling their resources, sharing their expertise and coordinating their on-the-ground interventions to ensure fragmentation becomes a thing of the past.

“The Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth was born out of our promise and commitment to young women and men and to our society to tackle one of the heftiest crises the world has ever seen. One that impacts both our today and tomorrow”, Moussa Oumarou, ILO Deputy Director-General for Partnerships and Field Support.

The Innovations for Decent Jobs for Youth event was the first opportunity to see this strategy in action. With over 200 participants – from government officials and CEOs, to grassroots activists and young leaders, young trade unionists and young entrepreneurs – the event was an exciting meeting of minds, hosted by the International Labour Organization, a UN agency with almost 100 years of cumulative knowledge on labour issues.

Day 1 focused on Decent Jobs for Youth, the youth employment challenge and the actions proposed by partners across the eight priorities areas. It offered an opportunity to present the thematic plans and have in-depth conversations about innovations that work to improve labour market outcomes of youth.

Day 2 delved into funding opportunities and mechanisms to scale up youth employment action. Building on experiences from other fields, the event focused on innovative financing from results-based financing to impact investing and crowdfunding alternatives that could not only boost resources dedicated to youth employment but also make financing more accessible to young women and men starting and growing businesses.

Stressing the importance of positively impacting youth’s lives, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Partnerships and Field Support. Moussa Oumarou, launched the Guide on Measuring Decent Jobs for Youth [link]. The guide walks policymakers and practitioners through a range of topics from results measurement to impact assessment seeking improved programming and more and better informed decisionmaking.

The youth employment challenge is vast and complex. But it is not insurmountable. The Innovations for Decent Jobs for Youth event not only provided a platform for bold new ideas to tackle the problem – it also demonstrated how they can be replicated, scaled-up and ultimately yield real positive change for young women and men across the globe.


  • Accenture

  • African Development Bank (AFDB)


  • Aspen Institute

  • Citi Foundation

  • Code for All Portugal

  • Education for Employment (EFE)

  • European Youth Forum

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

  • Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN)

  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

  • International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

  • International Trade Centre (ITC)

  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

  • Lukoil

  • Luxembourg, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et de l'Immigration

  • Mastercard Foundation

  • McDonald\'s Corporation

  • Mexico, Secretaria de Trabajo y Fomento al Empleo (STYFE)

  • Spain, Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security

  • Nestlé

  • Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY)

  • Organismo Internacional de Juventud para Iberoamérica (OIJ)

  • Plan International

  • SOS Children\'s Villages

  • United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

  • United Nations Children\'s Fund (UNICEF)

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

  • United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • Vodafone

  • World Health Organization (WHO)

  • United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY)

Geneva , Switzerland

Published Date

09 May 2018