Yet young people have been among the hardest hit by the economic consequences of COVID-19, and the current cost of living crisis is exacerbating the pressure on youth.
Investing in skills, education, quality jobs and mental health will help young people rejuvenate their educational and career prospects, empowering them to face the future with confidence.
Explore this page to take a look at the OECD’s work on youth and its initiatives to bring young people into the policy conversation.
Youthwise is the OECD's Youth Advisory Board, which is made up of engaged and passionate young people from OECD countries aged 18‒30. Launched in 2021, it brings the experiences and ideas of young people to the OECD, and improve youth understanding of the Organisation’s work and international policy making more broadly.
Check out the new board and see what they've been working on so far:
The new members of Youthwise 2023 at the OECD for their kick-off event.
At the initiative of the Italian Presidency of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in June 2022, the OECD has stepped up efforts to put young people and the challenges they face at the heart of policy-making – including placing youth participation as a top priority to build a strong and inclusive recovery.
> The Future Youth Want: Elements of a Youth Manifesto – Youthwise (the OECD’s youth advisory board), with help from youth organisations and OECD experts, presented their vision to OECD Ministers for the first time on 10 June 2022
> Creating Better Opportunities for Young People – Recommendation of the OECD Council, adopted 10 June 2022
Securing access to finance is a major obstacle for youth-led social enterprises, according to the 2022 OECD Youth and Social Enterprise (YSE) survey.
Some 76% of respondents said financing was a challenge for such enterprises (defined as private entrepreneurial activity that strives to pursue specific social, environmental and economic goals rather than the maximisation of profit for personal gain), higher than for any other category. Sixty-eight percent of respondents cited access to markets and institutional support structures as obstacles, with business development support and assistance in gaining necessary knowledge and skills also major challenges.
Supporting youth-led social enterprises could boost job prospects for young people while supporting their efforts to drive positive social outcomes. Policy makers are recognising this – and are now developing new strategies and policies to support social enterprise development.
“As soon as COVID hit, it felt like everyone woke up wondering what we should do for young people. Have we done enough for them? Could we do more?”
As Minister for Youth Policies in Italy, Fabiana Dadone, shared her perspectives on what we’ve learnt from the COVID-19 crisis, why we must give young people a voice, and how we can restore trust.
Delivering for youth: How governments can put young people at the centre of the recovery compiles the views of youth organisations from 72 countries on their experiences through the COVID-19 crisis and related government action.
It offers insight into all publicly available national response and recovery plans across OECD countries.
Engaging young people in the labour market is a matter of personal growth and development – and also of economic growth and social cohesion.
The spike in unemployment as economies locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic underlines the disparity in outcomes by age group: the blow dealt to 15-to-24 year-olds was much harder than to older age groups. The resulting scarring effects on young people hits individual well-being and diminishes the productive capacity of economies – highlighting the need to invest in youth to create quality jobs and build confidence in their future prospects.
How can governments and policy makers do more to help?
The consequences of COVID-19 have accelerated pre-existing issues for young people and it will take a joint effort across sectors, stakeholders and generations to solve them.
This is why the OECD launched Youthwise, a Youth Advisory Board made up of exceptional young people aged 18‒30 who bring their perspectives and ideas to the OECD.
Of the voting-age population across OECD countries, 34% is between the ages of 20 and 39. This compares to 22% of members of parliament (MPs) aged under 40 (from 36% in Norway to 8% in France).
Young participation in public institutions helps ensure public decisions take account of a plurality of views, which supports accountability of policy decisions while bolstering greater public responsiveness to all citizens’ needs and preferences. And it can help build greater public trust.
Young people have reported much higher levels of anxiety and depression since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the general adult population. This has widened existing differences.
Data from July 2021 point to 44.8% of young people reporting symptoms of anxiety in the US, compared to 27% for all adults, while 38.6% reported depression compared with 22.1% of adults. Earlier OECD data (from March 2021) showed that young people were 30% to 80% more likely to report symptoms of either depression or anxiety in Belgium, France and the US.
More data and analysis to identify young sub-groups – such as women, LGBTI+ and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds – that may need more support will be needed to better target extra mental health resources.
The OECD's Anja Meierkord discusses how governments could solve high youth unemployment and bridge the digital divide through lifelong learning.
Distancing and loneliness are a risk factor in the development of mental health conditions. The OECD's Shunta Takino explores how governments can provide more support.
Young people experience unique challenges in the transition to the world of work. The OECD's Stéphane Carcillo explains how policy makers can help.
Founder and CEO, Clanbeat
Maja Zovko Stele, Mojca Arh & Tatjana Dolinšek
Project Co-ordinators, Youth Transition Project, Slovenia
Policy and Advocacy Manager
European Youth Forum
French Ambassador to the OECD
The Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD and its Youth Network outline the priorities for OECD policy makers ahead of the Ministerial Council Meeting in October.
OECD local leaders pledge to help young people access services, economic opportunities, and take part in local public life (PDF).
Businesses can create opportunities for young people in a COVID-19 world. Find out how.