More Decent Work and Better Futures for Young People

Date: 01 March 2013

Women entrepreneurs in YMCA Trujillo – Peru

Once again, YMCA leaders have raised the issue of youth employment as a high
More Decent Work and Better Futures for Young People

Once again, YMCA leaders have raised the issue of youth employment as a high priority for global action.  40 National General Secretaries left a meeting in England earlier this month united in their concern and commitment.  They urged the WAY to continue advocating within the UN and other global arenas for what the International Labour Organisation (ILO) calls “decent work”, and for the full participation of young people in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods.

The term “decent work” has to do with the quality and quantity of jobs.  It refers to the health, safety and inclusiveness of workplaces, the protection of workers’ rights, and constructive communication between employers and employees. It’s concerned with employment opportunities that guarantee freedom, equity, human security and dignity.  

Decent Work is all about transforming social, cultural, and economic systems that perpetuate inequality so that we may improve people’s living conditions in such a way that they can flourish and actively participate in society.  The ILO has produced a short video to help us understand this important idea.

The question of “Decent Work” is a very important one to all workers, but particularly to young people who are at the highest risk of working jobs that will not empower their lives.

In international forums, the YMCA helps translate the idea into action.  We speak with the authority that comes from working alongside young people on every continent every day to improve their employment prospects.  Here are some examples:

•    The YMCA Entrepreneur’s Club in Peru is gives young people opportunities to continue basic education, acquire technical skills, and prepare for self-employment.

•    The International YMCA Academy’s Vocational Training Programme in Sri Lanka offers three six to eight month courses, such as motorcycle mechanics, banking and computers, and facilitates a training experience with companies.

•    The YMCA Learning to Earn Programme in the Gambia trains young people in communications and advocacy skills using a peer education model.

•    The YMCA Youth Employment Programme in Ireland is a 23-week course in communications, report writing, work experience, IT, personal development, health and intercultural education.

•    The YMCA Youth Employment Programme in Lebanon offers short-term courses through accelerated learning and on-the-job training, as well as support for self-employment and income generation.

•    The YMCA Employment Resource Centre in Canada provides young people with job search support and services, including a full range of educational workshops, coaching, basic computer skills and access to computers, Internet, office equipment.

There are many other examples.  So many that we undertook research study last year to document our collective impact on the youth employment issue.  Our findings will help us make a persuasive case for greater collaboration and investment in global decent work strategies that benefit individuals, communities and countries.

What’s the situation like for young people where you live?  What is the YMCA doing to respond to the evidence of unemployment, underemployment and unstable employment locally and nationally?

Please send your views, stories and photos about what “decent work” means to you to

World E-News February 2013 – Pdf version