In its latest update on global youth employment, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that by the end of 2010, 75.1 million young people (aged 15 to 24) were unemployed, which is an increase of 4.6 million compared to 2007 (1). In the same report, the ILO addresses the issue of working poverty. Young people from low-income economies cannot afford to undertake a lengthy job search due to a lack of social provisions.
“... the poor must work. But working does not mean having a decent job” (1)
Hence, a lot of young people in developing countries find themselves working in difficult, if not dangerous, conditions, often outside the boundaries of the formal economy. Young people constitute a significant share of the world’s working poor: 23.5%.
Young people in the developing world are therefore particularly vulnerable in terms of unemployment and working poverty.
The hotel industry
At the same time, the leisure and tourism industry is one of the leading global economic activities, a multi-billion-dollar industry with almost 1 billion international travellers per year around the world. Tourism represents a major source of income, especially in poor countries, and can be seen as a vehicle for development. Hotels, particularly those that operate at the high-end of the market, are often the major employer in developing countries and thus are responsible for the micro economy around them. They provide an infrastructure where none exists (for example electricity, water supply and telecoms links), but they also bring a large number of functional disciplines and a skilled workforce to an area.
There is very real concern among the industry that there will be an insufficient supply of qualified labour to meet the huge growth that the sector will see over the next ten years.
The positive impact of YCI
One of the ILO’s recommendations is the involvement of non-State actors, for example the private sector, in tackling youth un- or underemployment, and the establishment of specific outreach programmes that target underprivileged young people.
The Youth Career Initiative harnesses the potential that the tourism sector provides both in terms of employment opportunities and in the ability to transfer a wealth of education and skills from its managers and staff to disadvantaged youth and those at risk from within the local community, whether in a rural area or a city centre. Where hotels find it challenging to recruit local talent the Youth Career Initiative helps young people in that local community to skill-up and meet recruitment needs. Therefore, not only does the programme represent a practical and tangible community investment on the part of the participating hotels but it also makes good business sense.
The Youth Career Initiative has proven that it can change people’s lives. Through the industry’s investment in high quality, intensive training, participants are given the opportunity to build their skills and confidence that lead to legitimate employment or a return to education.
• Each year, 57 leading hotels empower 456 young people in 12 countries (figures from 2012).
• Success rate: 85% of graduates either go into employment or further education (47% in hospitality, 26% other sectors, 12% further education).
(1) ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 update
"Graduates understand the world of work and are familiar with the high standards of a successful business"
Spotlight on Brazil
- Youth aged 15-24 represent 26% of the 86 million strong workforce in Brazil (sources: ILO & US Department of State).
- In 2009, the average youth unemployment rate was 21.1%, with the number reaching as high as 52% in Brazil’s poor northeast region (source: USAID).
- The travel and tourism industry represents approximately 1 in every 18 jobs in Brazil (source: World Travel & Tourism Council).
Related items: YCI Brazil