Barriers to youth work opportunities

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Helpdesk Query:

What factors disproportionately hamper young people’s access to work opportunities (as opposed to hampering all job seekers equally), and how do these differ for young men and young women, and for different social/economic groups in low income countries?

Summary:

There is growing evidence that youth unemployment is becoming a bigger issue and challenge than adult unemployment (Manpower group, 2012). While young labour participants and adult participants can be affected by similar opportunities and barriers to work, youth may experience these barriers to a greater degree and may also face additional constraints. This report explores factors that constrain youth access to work opportunities in low-income countries. Most of the literature focuses on Africa. While there are a few empirical studies, most of the literature is based on qualitative analysis. Barriers to work opportunities identified include demand side factors (economic constraints; labour market failures; poor access to credit) and supply side factors (educational and skills mismatch; lack of social capital). They are cross-cut by social, economic, and political biases against youth (Moore, 2015). Urban youth and female youth are more likely to face obstacles in accessing work opportunities.

Barriers to employment and work opportunities on the demand side are often not necessarily youth specific but can affect job seekers generally (Betcherman & Khan, 2015). These include the state of the economy, absence of a business-friendly environment and infrastructure shortfalls (Ibid). Young people are particularly vulnerable, however, to demand-side fluctuations (Choudhry et al., 2012; in Baah-Boateng, 2016). During difficult economic times, youth are often the first to be laid off. This hinders their ability to build skills and experience (see Baah-Boateng, 2016; Manpower Group, 2012). Young people are also more likely to be affected by certain constraints, such as poor employer perceptions of them; lack of entry level jobs; inefficient information systems; and weak access to credit.

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