Youth Unemployment: Who Is to Be Blamed?

15/11/2013 13:02 | Updated 23 January 2014

During the World Economic Forum, youth unemployment was described as a "social and economic time bomb". Such a statement might seem over exaggerated. After all, it is only but normal that young people need more time to find a job. It has happened to almost everyone, things take time to roll out and it will eventually get better ! But this time, the challenge is a different beast. Did you know that half of the world population is currently under 27 years old ?

Trust me, this is more than an anecdote or a mundane fact : global population is growing faster than it has ever been, but this growth comes with a price : 30% of the world youth is unemployed. In the UK, the ratio stands lower at 21% yet still remains very worrying. I hardly enjoy being the bearer of bad news, but the situation was worrying about two years ago, now it has become a systemic cancer. The coming generation is the first one that will live with less wealth than their parents.

Roughly speaking, youth unemployment is increasing by four million every year, with 40million young people entering the worldwide workforce annually. We will need more than one or two percent of growth of the global GDP to be able to keep up the pace in hiring all these new workers! Now you get it : youth unemployment is not a joke, it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by every person or organisation, be it either a government, a company, a school or an association.

Because the thing is, while everyone is focusing on solving the economic crisis to make sure that the job market becomes dynamic again, they are neglecting a major aspect of the job market fluidity , people's employability. The latter is not only about the skills required to perform in a given job, it is also about polyvalence, the ability to fit in several types of jobs, but it is first of all the ability to convince a recruiter and get hired. "Touché!".

Most young people are actually poorly prepared for the job market. They do not know how to go about finding a job, they do not know what to look for, and worst of all, they do not know how to value themselves. This lack of professionalism and knowledge of themselves constitute the root cause for youth unemployment. There are jobs available, and there is a way to get them.

As many of you will know, looking for a job is actually easy : post... and pray ! But finding a job is another challenge. Most of the candidates will not make it to a first interview. No wonder why : the resume is the only tool used to select candidates for a first interview. The resume is about education and work experience. 99% of young people have little to no experience, and have not attended top schools. If I were a recruiter, would I chose to invest in such uncertainty ?!

Recruiting young people using these limited parameters is quite high a risk for companies. They would rather give the job to someone more experienced, or worse : they would not fill the position, rather than take any unforeseen risk. And yet, young people have major qualities that go far beyond their resume : audacity, innovation, optimism, vitality. These qualities can become a crucial asset to companies when properly channeled and developed.

To reduce youth unemployment, we can all play a significant role, by making sure we carry out actions to increase young people employability. If you are a recruiter, start being more flexible about the cv, and more focused on the personality of the candidates. If you are a parent, make sure you encourage your children to become adaptable to any situation. If you are anyone else, promote the tools that will reveal and develop the true strengths in people : books, websites, events... Flexibility, adaptation and self-development are key to fluidity in the job market, but employability is the key.