International Youth Day 2015 Statement

August 12th each year provides an opportunity to celebrate youth, whiles raising awareness about national, regional and global issues affecting young men and women and lobby for change.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is celebrating the day with a focus on “Economic Independence for Youth” with a call to action that many young people are not economically independent.

The generation of the youth today is the largest our world has ever seen in human history yet a large number are unable to exercise full potential and control over their lives and to make genuine choices. The youth as the future leaders face monumental challenges. Too many young persons are classified as ‘extremely poor’ with an income or expenditure level that is below what is required to purchase a minimum daily low-cost diet.

Creating viable and decent jobs for young people is a precondition to make their own economic choices. This lack of economic independence is causing young people to settle for less just to make ends meet. A lot of youngsters given the opportunity would not make the choices they made earlier in their lives.

Economic independence for the youth is where they have access to the full range of economic opportunities and resources, including decent employment, adequate or living wages, improved livelihoods to cope with cost of living, and social protection so they can shape their lives and their future, and meet their own needs; whiles increasing outcomes for themselves, their families, decrease benefit dependence and increase productivity.

Although some young people are doing relatively well, the large majority of youth are a long way from becoming economically independent. Achieving greater economic independence presents the greatest challenge for the youth who are dependent on social welfare benefits; those who want to move away from low skilled, low-paid employment but lack opportunities to do so.

Increasingly, young people are saying to their Governments: “This is not the world we want.” Millions of young people are desirous to be economically independent and have a brighter future. But while they hope and work towards this venture, for the best, it is important for governments to create more favourable conditions to enable them make informed choices to become active members of society.

Greater economic independence is possible when the youth have quality education, training and decent work opportunities and are able to make the best use of their skills to achieve better incomes for themselves and their families over their lifetime. For most young people greater economic independence can be achieved through improved incomes and a better return on the investment in their skills. Young people can make education and employment choices that strengthen their ability to be economically independent over their lifetimes.

It is important to understand that young people are not a burden but an important social asset, a resource, the mobilisation of whom may facilitate the attainment of higher social objectives in our time.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) representing 176 million workers within 162 countries and territories extends congratulatory greetings to all young workers and indeed youth worldwide.

Happy International Youth Day!

In solidarity,
Nana Koomah Brown-Orleans
ITUC Youth Committee Chairperson