The Role of the Private Sector

“The cohesiveness of entire communities is bound up in economic development, in education and in the creation of job opportunities for all those who can work, especially youth. In this era of a globalized economy and an information age, where capital and labour is so mobile, no country can afford to undervalue or waste its human resources.”

Peter Anderson, Employers’ Spokesperson, General discussion on youth employment,
International Labour Conference, 2005

Improving employment opportunities for young people requires a broad and concerted effort from all stakeholders. While governments are primarily responsible for creating an enabling environment for youth employment, employers – as major providers of jobs, and workers – as direct beneficiaries, have an important role in the process. 

Action by employers and their organizations to support youth employment can take several forms, which varies across countries depending on national circumstances. These include:

1. Direct action concerning skills development and training

Employers and their organizations have a central role in the identification (and subsequent design and implementation) of the appropriate education, training and general skills requirements that economies need. Business has a clear interest in ensuring that education and training creates the skilled labour force they will need for the future. As key customers of the education and training system, business can help inform policy and practice across a variety of related issues.

Traditionally a great deal of efforts of employers worldwide have focused on equipping school leavers, first-time jobseekers and young unemployed with the technical skills and attitudes that are required from them to become more “employable” or “suitable” for the labour market.  Examples of interventions by employers in this area include:

  • Enterprises’ participation in national vocational training systems and training programmes through interventions aimed at facilitating the transition of young people to the world of work (e.g. enterprise-based training)
  • Measures to increase the number and scope of training opportunities for young people within the private sector (e.g. campaigns geared towards businesses to create or expand training places; joint efforts by employers and educational authorities to increase vocational training places and apprenticeship places in enterprises)
  • Special training schemes organized by employers, individually or collectively, outside the framework of national training systems in order to generate the skills required by a specific industry or company, including schemes targeting disadvantaged youth
  • Establishment of school-industry partnership arrangements in order to enhance the relevance of education and easing young people transition from school to work (e.g. workplace learning initiatives within the educational framework)

2. Direct actions concerning job creation

Private sector growth is a key engine of job creation and more than ad hoc measures are required to enable employers to create jobs for young people on a sustainable basis. In many countries, however, employers, often through their organizations, are also implementing or pioneering a number of initiatives to expand job opportunities for young workers, and to facilitate their integration into the labour market. Examples of action in this area include:

  • Job facilitation and placement schemes to match young jobseekers with job offers from companies (e.g. a job bank by an organization)
  • Use of government programmes and incentives to create new jobs for young people (e.g. a Fund)
  • Mentoring of young entrepreneurs and business start-up assistance   
  • Establishment of young entrepreneurs’ networks or support to ease access to enterprise networks 

3. Policy making and advocacy

The participation of employers and their organizations in the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes for youth employment has proven critical for enhancing the relevance of interventions and make them more respondent to labour market requirements. Employers, through their organizations, can also play an important role in raising-awareness, generating and disseminating information, and mobilizing support around youth employment issues. Some actions undertaken by employers in this regard include:

  • Participation in national tripartite policy-making bodies dealing with vocational education and training and job creation (e.g. boards of educational and training institutions; funding bodies for grant allocation to young entrepreneurs)
  • Contribution to policy and programme development and implementation through social dialogue and collective bargaining
  • Research into and dissemination of information on youth employment issues, specifically with regard to private sector needs concerning skills and job requirements
  • Promotional campaigns and other initiatives targeting different groups depending on circumstances (e.g. young people, parents, schools, industry partners, etc.) using tools such as advertisements, radio spots, television chat shows, videos, newspaper articles, job fairs

In the real word, action in each of the three main areas highlighted above is often intertwined, as the examples contained in this tool show.

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