The WAY’s Youth Employment Agenda

Date: 21 February 2013

Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the WAY meet in October 2012 at John R. Mott House in Geneva to talk about collaborating on global youth employment issues.

In October last year, an important meeting took place at John R. Mott House in Geneva.  Johan, Romulo, Samuel and I sat down with two colleagues from the International Labour  Organization (ILO) to talk collaboration.  Worrisome global youth labour market trends – and strategies to reverse them – were on our minds.

What We’re Learning
According to UNICEF, young people aged 10 to 30 represent 50% of the world’s population.  If you are between 15 and 24 years of age, you represent almost 25% of the world’s working-­‐age population.  A very high percentage of young people live in developing economies.  In 2012, the ILO  estimated that 75 million young people will be unemployed worldwide.

What We Already Know
YMCA leaders around the world know a large segment of this group by name.  They are more than statistics to us.  We know their struggle to combine work and school.  We know the consequences of leaving school early, losing a job, or doing a job that does not provide a living wage.  We can see the barriers to decent work in the attitudes, policies and practices of governments, businesses and society at large.

Our Agenda
When the WAY sits down to talk with the ILO about youth employment, we begin to see a more complete picture of the problems and possibilities.  Here’s some of what we’ve been learning and communicating on your behalf:

•    The search for understanding and solutions must be led by young people.  We need to hear their analysis of issues and their views in the process of developing policies, designing programs and creating experiences that enhance employability.

•    The YMCA’s approach to youth employment is based on proven practices.  
Collectively the YMCA is identifying promising practices in vocational, education and training, microcredit, and entrepreneurship. We are building a process of rigorous assessment and evaluation.   

•    Collective impact depends on well-­‐defined roles and responsibilities among partners.  We enter into partnerships and alliances to transform the lives of individuals, families, communities and social, political and economic systems over time.

Next Steps
This year, we’ll continue to build the ILO-­‐YMCA relationship and to advocate for investments in global youth employment strategies.  You can count on the WAY to fly the YMCA flag at multilateral conferences related to education and employment opportunities for young people.  To strengthen our position and our case for support, we’re undertaking research to understand the impact of YMCA youth employment work locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.  In collaboration with 10 to 20 national YMCA movements, we look forward to learning more about the impact of this work and to create a scalable model – a hybrid of best practices and ideas for accelerated  action.

Think of this research as a deep dive into this core YMCA programme.  Romulo and I are excited to be collaborating with a youth advisory committee and colleagues in national and area alliance offices to this end.  We’re wondering:

How have you been personally affected in any way by the crisis in youth employment?  What do you think the YMCA is best positioned to do to reverse the trends and improve employment  prospects?

We would love to know your thoughts! Write us at !

I invite you to take a few minutes to listen to Romulo’s speech at the ILO’s 101th session last spring (watch video below) .  He tells his story and our story.  He speaks to the role of the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO) as the ILO’s partner.  He advocates for an official, independent and proper space for young people in this arena.  The session concluded with a call for urgent action on the global youth employment agenda in the final declaration.  It was a  proud moment for all of us – and just the beginning!

Selma Zaidi
Senior Executive Secretary for Movement Strengthening

Romulo’s speech at the ILO’s 101th session

Panel Debate on Youth Employment at the 101st ILC
with Samuel Diaz Littauer (WAY Staff)

World YMCA E-News – January 2013 – Full Pdf Version