Ignore youth joblessness at your peril, OECD warns
Canada singled out for job market improvement
The OECD says governments need to act quickly to address stubbornly high jobless levels and warns that the longer they wait, the more likely it is that a generation of young workers will be permanently left behind.
The Paris-based think tank of developed nations says the societal price that will be paid from keeping youth unemployment at current crisis levels is reason enough for governments to do what's necessary to give their young citizens a future.
"It is imperative that governments use every possible means at their disposal to help jobseekers, especially young people, by removing barriers to job creation and investing in their education and skills," the OECD's Secretary-General Angel Gurria said. "The young are at most risk of long-term damage to their careers and livelihoods."
The group expects the overall jobless rate among its 34 member states to be 7.7 per cent by the end of next year, not a great deal less than the 7.9 per cent level it was at in May 2012.
That figure means around 48 million people are currently out of work across the OECD. In the Euro area, unemployment spiked to an all-time high of 11.1 per cent in May.
Rate hits 50% in places
And young people are disproportionately represented in that. Thirty-five per cent of jobless young people have been out of work for more than a year, and almost eight per cent in the euro area have been so for more than two.
"This group faces a high risk of poverty and social exclusion. Addressing this should be a priority for action by governments," the OECD said in a release.
Not all countries have been affected, but some, like Greece and Spain, have seen youth unemployment rise to above 50 per cent.
The think tank cites Canada as having done a better job on the jobs front, predicting the jobless rate would shrink to 6.4 per cent by the end of 2013, or close to its pre-recession levels.
However, the latest Statistics Canada report shows unemployment among the 15-24 year group rose half a point to 14.8 per cent in June, more than twice the national average of 7.2 per cent.
Last week, the agency also reported that Canadian youth were experiencing recession-level conditions on the summer jobs front.
Employment as a percentage of their population among students aged 20-24 was at a level equal to that of June 2009, and among 17-19 year olds, it was at the lowest level since data became available in 1977, the agency said.
Among the strategies the OECD recommends to help young people are publicly-subsidized internships, apprenticeships and other dual vocational and training programmes.
With files from The Canadian Press