Youth and the city

Young people make up nearly 40 per cent of the world’s unemployed, but if the collective energy and creativity of youth could be harnessed, think how much could be accomplished! Around 85 per cent of young people live in developing countries, and many from rural areas migrate to cities seeking opportunities. Once there, they find fewer job openings than job-seekers, so many are forced to work informally at whatever they can find, and live in slums, particularly in countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad and Ethiopia. If these large numbers of unemployed youth go unaided, they are likely to become trapped in poverty, are at risk of being exploited, and have little access to education and health care – all of which can fuel political unrest. Policy makers are trying to help, and the need to create employment opportunities for young people is specifically addressed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 1, Target 1b). The Youth Employment Network (YEN) – a partnership between the UN, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank – advocates prioritizing youth employment on development agendas, works with young people to pilot entrepreneurial projects, and supports such strategies as microcredit schemes, vocational and entrepreneurship training, and information and communication technology skills training. With perseverance, such efforts will help make cities hubs of hope for young people.

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