Policy measures to generate productive jobs in a world where lack of employment poses a serious risk to millions have been put forward by the United Nations Commission for Social Development, which concluded its annual session in New York today.
Faced with a global youth unemployment of 13.7 per cent, representing almost half of the world’s unemployed, the Commission agreed today on a resolution calling on governments to improve access of youth to technical, secondary and higher education, to adapt curricula to meet the needs of a rapidly changing labour market, and to equip young people with the skills demanded in today’s economy, including familiarity with information and communication technologies.
During the 10-day session, participants discussed innovative measures in employment creation, such as macroeconomic policies to create an enabling environment for employment, labour market policies aiming at job creation, cash transfer programmes to alleviate poverty and create jobs, and enabling environments for the fast expansion of private-sector jobs through increased investments.
Many speakers insisted that job creation should not only be a central goal in national policymaking, but should also be pursued through a more balanced and coordinated strategy on a global level.
Costa Rica’s representative Saul Weisleder, while acknowledging that employment and decent work were a priority, said traditional recipes were not working. “We cannot have a frenetic race to attract investment, and neither should we ignore the realities of the markets and liberalization,” he said, calling instead for developing countries to better participate in the world economy through an “intelligent integration” built on respective strengths and adequate allocation of resources.
On other demographic issues, Frederick Fenech, Director of Malta’s International Institute on Ageing, said the growing number of older persons – some 375 million people worldwide – should not lead to inter-generational stress and “ageism” sparked by fears of dwindling health-care funds and services. “Everyone must also work to ensure that older persons are not seen as passive and helpless, but rather as valuable resources that can benefit society as a whole,” he said.
The Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Disability, Sheikha Hessa al-Thani, presented a new survey of government actions to implement UN guidelines on improving the situation of persons with disabilities. The responses from 114 countries revealed that countries had done far better than expected in providing medical care, rehabilitation and support and assistance services than they had actually reported.
Less than half of the countries that responded, however, had involved disability organizations with respect to medical care, rehabilitation and supportive services, accessibility, education and employment. “These numbers speak for themselves,” Ms. Al-Thani said, “explaining one of the reasons why equalization of opportunities has not occurred.”
Today the Commission adopted three other resolutions – on youth, ageing and Africa’s development. It urged governments to develop comprehensive youth policies in consultations with youth organizations; called on governments to implement the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing – the first international agreement that specifically recognizes the potential of older people to contribute to the development of their societies; and welcomed the progress made by African countries to deepen democracy, human rights, good governance and sound economic management.