Ismail Serageldin


With around a billion young people in school about to enter the labor force and another 1.5 billion right behind them before the structure of population stabilizes, there will be enormous pressure for finding appropriate livelihoods for these multitudes.

A problem for the industrialized countries of the North as well as for the developing countries of the South, albeit much greater in the South, youth unemployment tends to have very profound negative impact on the entire lives of youth. The absence of youth employment or sustainable livelihoods for youth—upon their entry into the labor force—leads to a high incidence of social pathologies later on.

In the developing countries of the South, the trends towards globalization with its increased competition and the emphasis on knowledge-based activities along with rapid urbanization, means that there is a large risk of having hundreds of millions of half educated and unemployed youths in the dense and growing cities of the developing world. This is not only a terrible waste, but also a prescription for major social and political unrest. This is on top of current labor problems running the gamut from child labor to overstaffed and inefficient bureaucracies that are plaguing many developing countries today. To counter that, we must not only identify and adopt the "best practices" in terms of what approaches work, but we must also rethink the very meaning of employment in terms of "sustainable livelihoods", including self-employment, partial employment and other forms of community action.

Policies and programs from the international, regional, national and local perspectives are to be promoted. Links between government and NGOS, public and private sectors, formal and informal are all to be nurtured. Above all, the means of empowering youth to take charge of their own destinies will be the key.
How do we do it? How do we avoid reinventing the wheel in every community on the planet?

Ismail Serageldin joined with a distinguished group of world personalities to help launch the civil society effort to organize a world "summit" to address the issues of youth employment: The Youth Employment Summit (YES). The Organizing Committee, which Serageldin chairs, includes M.S. Swaminathan, Robert Reich, Gertrude Mongella, Michel Rocard, Baroness Williams, and many others, including youth leaders who organized an event in 2002. The Director for the Summit is Poonam Ahluwalia of the Boston-based EDC which is hosting the secretariat.

The Youth Employment Summit (YES)

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