Jobs a ticking time bomb for Asia

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Asia must tackle the issue of rising youth unemployment or face social instability faced in countries like Greece or Spain, say labour experts.

According to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO), the unemployment rate among people under 24 remained high at 12.6% last year and the total was expected to reach 95 million worldwide in 2015. Of this number, 14% will be in Southeast Asia countries alone.

“Seventy-five million youth, under the age of 24, across the world are currently unemployed — with almost half of them in Asia,” said John B. Trew, a youth employment specialist at Plan International, in a report by The Bangkok Post.

In many countries, underemployment among young people is a bigger problem than outright joblessness. Millions of young people can only find temporary work, or jobs that are far below the skill levels for which they were trained.

“Youth unemployment is correlated with social problems such as crime, vandalism and drugs. Small demonstrations later could lead to social unrest which therefore creates instability for the whole society,” he said.

Education reforms, constructive corporate engagement and responsible governments are the keys to improving the job outlook for young people. Particularly in Southeast Asia, vocational education and training focused on a more market-driven approach will give people a better chance of finding decent work.

“We need to make sure that these notions of work and preparing youths for their transition are something that is not just as an individual concern but a shared responsibility across the board,” said Trew.

“If no serious action is taken at this stage, in five to 10 years’ time, youth joblessness in Asia will pose an unavoidable crisis to the region.”


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