Youth joblessness is almost back at its peak after the outbreak of the global economic crisis and is unlikely to ease until at least 2016, the International Labour Organisation warned today.
The ILO said nearly 75 million youths or 12.7% of people aged 15 to 24 will be out of work this year, up from 12.6% in 2011.
The jobless total is creeping towards the 75.4 million unemployed in 2009 when the financial crisis caused the number to soar.
The picture is more gloomy if the millions who have put off or given up looking for a job are included: this would put the 2011 figure at 13.6%.
Youths opting to prolong their education will meanwhile enter the labour market in the coming years, putting continued pressure on the jobless rate. "By 2016, the youth unemployment rate is projected to remain at the same high level," said the ILO.
In its Global Employment Trends for Youth report, the body suggests offering tax and other incentives to businesses hiring young people and more entrepreneurship programmes to help youths kick-start a career.
"The youth unemployment crisis can be beaten but only if job creation for young people becomes a key priority in policy-making and private sector investment picks up significantly," said executive director of the ILO's employment sector, Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs.
More than a quarter (27.9%) of youths were unemployed in North Africa last year following the Arab spring uprisings, an increase of five percentage points on 2010.
The Middle East figure stood at 26.5% in the report's regional breakdown. In central and south-eastern Europe the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 17.6% in 2011 and Latin America and the Caribbean also saw a small decrease to 14.3%. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rate stood at 11.5% compared to 13.5% in south-east Asia and the Pacific.
"Even in East Asia, perhaps the most economically dynamic region, the unemployment rate was 2.8 times higher for young people than for adults," said the report. The statistics also showed the jobs crisis tended to have a stronger impact on women in most regions.