OECD work on Youth


"Giving young people the skills and tools to find a job is not only good for their own prospects and self-esteem, it is also good for economic growth, social cohesion and widespread well-being. That’s why investing in youth must be a policy priority the world over."

OECD Secretary-General



The global financial crisis has reinforced the message that more must be done to provide youth with the skills and help they need to get a better start in the labour market and progress in their career. Sharp increases in youth unemployment and underemployment have built upon long-standing structural obstacles that are preventing many youth in both OECD countries and emerging economies from making a successful transition from school to work. 

Key elements of the OECD Action Plan for Youth

  • Tackle the current youth unemployment crisis
  • Tackle weak aggregate demand and boost job creation
  • Provide adequate income support to unemployed youth until labour market conditions improve but subject to strict mutual obligations
  • Maintain, and where possible expand, cost-effective active labour market measures
  • Tackle demand-side barriers to the employment of low-skilled youth
  • Encourage employers to continue or expand quality apprenticeship and internship programme
  • Strengthen the long-term employment prospects of youth
  • Strengthen the education system and prepare all young people for the world of work
  • Strengthen the role and effectiveness of Vocational Education and Training
  • Assist the transition to the world of work
  • Reshape labour market policy and institutions to facilitate access to employment and tackle social exclusion

Read more about The OECD Action Plan for Youth - Giving Youth a Better Start




There is no doubt that fostering youth employability re-quires a comprehensive and forward-looking skill strategy; this is more urgent today as the global economic crisis has hit youth hard and many of them are still facing significant barriers to employment. But it has also become clear that efforts to achieve a better match between the skills youth acquire at school and those needed in the labour market may not per se be sufficient to improve labour
market prospects for all youth.

Read The OECD Skills Strategy




40% of youth indicate an interest in self-employment and governments have a substantial number of programmes in place to help them start businesses, including entrepreneurship education and training; information, advice, coaching and mentoring; financial support; and infrastructure including incubators and youth business networks.

Youth entrepreneurship is unlikely to be a panacea for solving the youth unemployment problem but it can be a part of the response. To maximise effectiveness and efficiency, policy should target resources on young people with the best chance of success, provide sufficient support to allow them to start businesses outside of low entry barrier but high competition sectors, and provide integrated packages of complementary support rather than one-shot instruments.

Read a Policy brief on Youth Entrepreneurship




Financial literacy is a core life skill for participating in modern society. Children are growing up in an increasingly complex world where they will eventually need to take charge of their own financial future.

National surveys show that young adults have amongst the lowest levels of financial literacy. This is reflected by their general inability to choose the right financial products and often a lack of interest in undertaking sound financial planning. Even from an early age, children need to develop the skills to help choose between different career and education options and manage any discretionary funds they may have, whether from allowances or part time jobs. These funds may entail the use of savings accounts or bank cards.

Read about our work on Financial education in schools



The number of young people out of work in the OECD area is nearly a third higher than in 2007 and set to rise still further in most of the countries with already very high unemployment in the months ahead. Youth unemployment rates exceeded 25% in nine OECD countries at the end of the first quarter of 2013, including Ireland, Italy, Portgual, Spain and Greece. 


Long-term unemployment among youth has increased dramatically since 2007, with more than one in five young people aged 15-24 out of work for more than 12 months. Even countries that have escaped the worst of the crisis, such as Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, have seen a significant rise in long-term joblessness.


These figures do not capture the full hardship of youth, as many who have left education no longer appear in official unemployment statistics. Around 22 million young people are NEETs: not in employment, education or training. Two-thirds of them have given up looking for work and are likely to experience long periods of joblessness and lower pay than their peers over the course of their lives.








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