Forward by Rt Hon Priti Patel MP,

Secretary of State, Department of International Development

The subject of this report could not be more important – to young people themselves, but also to the prosperity and stability of the countries where we work, and to the UK.

There is a global jobs problem that is increasingly youthful.  Over the next decade a billion more young people will enter the job market, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.   An estimated 18 million new jobs will be needed each year until 2035 to absorb the growing labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa.  And the African Development Bank estimates that, without concerted action, nearly 50% of youth will be unemployed or economically inactive by 2025.

Young people have the potential to shape the future of their countries, growing markets for international investment and building a future that is both in their interest, and in ours.   However, if young people feel marginalized, they can fuel instability and increase tensions or fall victim to violent extremism and conflict.  Unless more and better jobs are created, services such as health and education will suffer and migration pressures will grow.

The UK has invested a great deal in helping increased numbers of children in developing countries to survive the health and nutrition challenges of childhood.  We must ensure that as they grow, they can develop the resilience and skills they need to overcome poverty and adversity, and to build a positive future within their own national borders.

Education, particularly beyond the primary level, is key to improving young people’s lives and economic opportunities – especially for girls.  An extra year of primary schooling for girls can increase their wages by 10-20%, most of which is likely to be reinvested in their families and communities. I am therefore proud that my Department prioritises getting more girls to access and stay in education, and make the critical transition from primary to secondary school. I am also proud that as these children then move into adulthood, we prepare them for the workplace by providing skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, team working, digital literacy, resilience and tolerance of diversity.

I believe the UK must significantly increase its support for, and investment in creating good jobs for young people.  We must also consider how we can best prepare young people to access new economic opportunities. This can only be done through dynamic partnerships between the private sector, civil society and governments.

DFID’s first ever Economic Development Strategy lays the ground for how we will work across the UK Government to establish new trade, investment and economic links to end poverty.  The emphasis is on creating more and better jobs, enabling businesses to grow, supporting better infrastructure, technology, connectivity and a skilled and healthy workforce.

It also stresses that those who are routinely excluded, including girls and women, people with disabilities, and the world’s poorest people, must benefit from inclusive growth.

The challenges ahead are huge, but we all stand to benefit – and our young people deserve nothing less.

Introduction by Jeremy Lefroy MP

Chair, Parliamentary Network for the World Bank and IMF

I am delighted to introduce this Job Creation Policy Primer. Its purpose is to encourage parliamentarians, governments, international institutions, educators, businesses, third sector leaders and youth themselves to develop and implement the policy solutions that will drive job-rich growth in their communities and nations.

We live in a world where automation, robotics, online services, economic austerity and a public appetite for smaller government has swept away great swathes of jobs in both the public and private sectors. That is why, here in the UK, I am proud that our government champions initiatives such as the New Enterprise Allowance, Universal Jobmatch and the National Apprenticeship Helpdesk that all help to reduce the numbers of unemployed youth. The Economic Development Strategy launched by the UK Department for International Development in January 2017 places similar emphasis on job creation and will, I hope, deliver long-term prosperity to bottom-of-the-pyramid families in DFID’s client countries, and a useful return on aid investments for UK taxpayers in Global Britain.

In order to achieve Goal 8 of the SDGs –“full and productive employment and decent work for all” by 2030 – we have a massive mountain to climb. Six million jobs need to be created every month for the next 15 years – million a month or 30,000 a day in Africa alone.

“With committed, visionary leadership, we can solve the youth unemployment crisis. And, by doing so, we will solve so much else in terms of peace, security, the elimination of poverty and the creation of shared prosperity for developing countries and ourselves.”

The time for piecemeal solutions and talking-shop initiatives is over. Instead, we must knuckle down and scale the policy solutions that work. We don’t know everything: for example, common metrics need to be developed so that we can compare the effectiveness – particularly the cost-effectiveness – of different interventions. But we know enough to get started, and start we must. The benefits that flow from successful youth job creation include, according to the World Bank, a US$3 to US$5 trillion dividend to the global economy. That, plus stable, more contented communities, a wider tax base and families that can afford to educate and provide healthcare for their children are rewards worth striving for.

Failure to create jobs will result in a huge loss to the global economy and a ‘lost generation’ scarred for life by feelings of failure and uselessness. Some of them will be tempted into insurrection, joining rebel armies or terrorist groups as ‘employers of last resort’.

The economic empowerment of young women is central to job creation. Barriers to their education and opportunities to learn technical and business skills must be lifted and equal opportunity provided for young female entrepreneurs to prosper and take leadership roles in the promotion of new business.

The vast majority of youth in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) will be forced to make their livelihoods from self-employment and enterprise creation. As policymakers, we must embrace that reality – and others, like the difficulties faced by young people trying to access capital, register a business or secure reliable, low-cost access to the internet that is essential to all 21st Century job creation.

The Systems Approach promoted in this booklet sees youth job creation starting from an early age. At school, youth must be given the skills and the mindsets to make their own way through appropriate lessons and career guidance + connections to the private sector and the world of work.

The rewards of achieving full youth employment are both massive and self-evident:

  • US$3 to US$5 trillion dollar added to the global economy (World Bank IEG)
  • Increased tax revenues; more money for public services
  • Fulfilling lives for young citizens and their families
  • A reduction in poverty, crime, social problems and ‘dangerous behaviours’

In brief, young people in jobs grow economies; young people without jobs deplete them. I do hope you will join me in working to create more of the former, and less of the latter.

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