Sustainable development through decent jobs for youth
Description/achievement of initiative

Sustainable development is only useful if it leads to the improved welfare of ordinary people. Generating more decent jobs that provide a living wage, social protection and worker rights is the best way to promote the three components of sustainable development: economic growth, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. At present there is a critical job shortage in most SIDS. This is reflected in high levels of unemployment and underemployment. These problems are particularly severe among young people, with youth unemployment rates exceeding 50 % in many SIDS. This is compounded by the poor quality of jobs that are available to young people. Due to a number of factors, including demography, the situation of young people is not expected to improve in the decades ahead. High rates of unemployment and under-employment, particularly among young men in the SIDS, are often associated with anti-social behaviours, including crime and drug use. This constitutes a threat to political stability and sustainable development. Urgent action is needed to improve employment prospects of young people in the SIDS as a way to foster economic, social and political stability.In 2012, the ILO adopted a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach to tackle the youth employment crisis. This approach combines action across five broad areas: macroeconomic policies; education and skills; labour market policies; self-employment and entrepreneurship; and worker rights for youth. This approach is underpinned by the collection and analysis of detailed data from school-to-work transition surveys and the assessment of policies and programmes with a view to improving the relevance and effectiveness of youth employment interventions. Illustrative examples of ILO's interventions to improve youth employment:A good example of the ILO approach can be found in Timor-Leste where in recent years activities have included: direct job creation through road development and other infrastructure in rural areas; vocational training and skill development; the provision of business services in key industries; and the establishment of a labour market information system. More details can be found at: http://www.ilo.org/jakarta/whatwedo/publications/WCMS_241045/lang--en/index.htmThe ILO work in Timor-Leste has been generously supported by Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the European Union. Through this partnership the ILO is seeking to maintain these activates and replicate them, where appropriate, in other SIDS. In Jamaica, the ILO is working to assist the Government in creating opportunities for sustainable employment and poverty reduction, especially among young women and men, by implementing the Rural Employment Programme. Such an approach to decent work ensures that young women and men in rural/urban poor communities gain skills and knowledge that they can apply to improve their incomes and take a more active role in shaping their communities.

Implementation methodologies

The ILO engages in detailed and regular consultations with our tripartite constituents at national level to establish priorities and a plan of work (Decent Work Country Programme or DWCP). Most of the SIDS already have a DWCP and the vast majority have made tackling youth employment a key priority. The ILO is therefore, already implementing some activities related to employment of young people in a number of SIDS. For the vast majority of countries, the ILO does not have the resources to implement comprehensive programmes. The objective of this new SIDS partnership is to establish a new comprehensive set of activities on youth employment in three additional countries. Given that nearly all SIDS have expressed a strong demand for additional ILO activities related to youth employment we would welcome dialogue with donors in selecting the three additional countries for priority attention.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

A major feature of all ILO activities is capacity building which is available to the very broad cross section of society that our tripartite constituents represent. Ordinary workers, the unemployment, small business people and government officials all benefit from our capacity building activities in a systematic manner.

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

The ILO has nearly 100 years of experience as a tripartite organisation. This makes the Organisation unique in the UN system and provides a strong comparative advantage. Representatives of the private sector in the form of employers’ organizations and trade unions share the responsibility for governing the ILO with governments. Through the Governing Body and the annual International Labour Conference this tripartite structure sets priorities, determines the budget and oversees the implementation of all work. At the country level, such as in the example of Timor-Leste and Jamaica, the ILO activities are governed by a combination of the International Labour Office, the tripartite constituents in the country and the donor governments. This same system of governance would apply in any other SIDS where the ILO implements activities.


ILO, national governments in a wide range of SIDS, employer organisations and trade unions and a range of donor governments.
Progress reports
Goal 8
To tackle the youth employment crisis in three SIDS the ILO will deliver a comprehensive programme of activities covering: macroeconomic policies; education and skills; labour market policies; self –employment and entrepreneurship; and worker rights
Financing (in USD)
Staff / Technical expertise
ILO Office and Decent Work Team (DWT) for the Caribbean; The ILO Decent Work Country Programme for Timor-Leste; ILO Youth Employment Programme, Geneva

Basic information
Time-frame: 0000-00-00 - Ongoing
ILO, national governments in a wide range of SIDS, employer organisations and trade unions and a range of donor governments.
Contact information
Robert Kyloh, Senior Economist, kyloh@ilo.org
United Nations