Why is youth unemployment so high and different across countries?

Young people experience worse labor market outcomes than adults worldwide but the difference varies greatly internationally

Elevator pitch

In Germany, young people are no worse off than adults in the labor market, while in southern and eastern European countries, they fare three to four times worse. In Anglo-Saxon countries, both youth and adults fare better than elsewhere, but their unemployment rates fluctuate more over the business cycle. The arrangements developed in each country to help young people gain work experience explain the striking differences in their outcomes. A better understanding of what drives these differences in labor market performance of young workers is essential for policies to be effective

Youth versus adult unemployment rates in
                        OECD countries, 2015

Key findings


Countries differ dramatically in their ability to generate the work-related competences young people need to succeed in the labor market.

Central European, Anglo-Saxon, and several Asian countries perform better with respect to many youth outcomes.

Recent reforms are reducing cross-country institutional differences; the worst performing countries are learning from the best.

Education systems that integrate more with the labor market, through apprenticeship, job placement services, or direct hiring by firms, seem to setup their youth for success in the labor market.


In most countries, the ratio of youth to adult unemployment is between two and three; in eastern and southern Europe, young people fare even worse.

Southern and eastern European countries were the hardest hit by the global financial crisis, with youth suffering most.

Temporary work does not solve the youth disadvantage; it helps only the most skilled workers and those in need of general, not job-specific skills.

Author’s main message

In a time of ever increasing educational attainment levels, young people still experience lower employment, income, and participation rates as well as higher unemployment compared to adults. The share of high school and tertiary graduates who accept jobs suited for lower education levels (skills mismatch) is high in many countries. The reason is the low level of work-related competences held by young people. Generating these competences should become a top priority for modern education systems. In addition, labor markets should be more flexible to allow earlier labor market entrance, though they should be wary of becoming over-reliant on the use of temporary contracts.


Young people, in nearly every country, experience worse labor market outcomes than adults. However, there are striking differences across countries, with some performing much better than others. The reason behind the worldwide youth disadvantage can be traced back to their lower than average human capital. This may be because some youth drop out of school before achieving at least compulsory education, or because when they do achieve a high secondary or tertiary education level, they miss other key components of human capital, namely general and job-specific work experience. General competences can be acquired through any type of (even short) work experience. However, job-specific competences can be acquired and used only in specific jobs and require long periods of time to accumulate, say several years, depending on the actual professional content of the job. This low level of human capital among young people correlates with, among other things, jobs mismatch, which is the difference between the competences supplied by young people and those that firms require from them.

Discussion of pros and cons

Youth face a variety of challenges in different countries’ labor markets. In which countries do young people perform relatively better or worse in the labor market? Answering this question can provide important insights into the factors that lead to the success or failure of a country’s school-to-work transition (SWT) system. SWT regimes comprise all institutions that impact the education-to-work transition, including the education and training system, labor market regulations, the organization of the welfare state, and family structures. All these factors can have important implications for labor market outcomes of young people. A noteworthy study defines a transition system as “the relatively enduring features of a country’s institutional and structural arrangements which shape transition processes and outcomes” [1].

The youth disadvantage in a given labor market can be assessed using different indicators. The most common is the unemployment rate, namely the share of the workforce that is actively seeking work. Nonetheless, especially in the case of young people, the unemployment rate tells only part of the story. An alternative is to look at the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates. The former is affected more by the fluctuations of the business cycle than the latter, which more closely mirrors a country’s institutional characteristics and the functionality of its SWT system. OECD countries tend to cluster around similar values of the youth and adult unemployment rates and, hence, also the ratio of the two. The evolution over time of these rates is likewise similar within given groups of countries. Such evolutions are mostly independent of economic conditions and compositional differences in young people’s educational and social backgrounds [2]. This suggests that several countries belong to the same SWT regime.

Following a study from 2015, at least five different SWT regimes can be identified [3]: (i) the north European or Scandinavian model (Finland, Norway, and Sweden); (ii) the continental European model (Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as—in some opinions—Belgium and Denmark); (iii) the Anglo-Saxon model (the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand); (iv) the south European model (Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain); and (v) that of former socialist countries, which include the new EU member states. These SWT regimes overlap with the identification of welfare state regimes—social democratic, conservative, liberal—with the addition of the so-called Latin Rim (southern European countries) [4], and former socialist countries.

Other indicators, such as the employment rate, the rate of inactivity, and the not in education, employment, or training (NEET) rate, are also useful to catch specific aspects of young people’s labor market behavior, but the first two mentioned—the youth unemployment rate and the ratio of the youth to the adult unemployment rate—are the most commonly used.

As shown in the Illustration, young people experience a disadvantage compared to adults in every OECD country. In most countries, the youth unemployment rate is two to three times larger than for adults. Germany and Japan are the only two countries in which young people have nearly the same risk of unemployment as adults. These two countries have experienced the lowest relative disadvantage of young to adult people in their labor markets for decades [3]. In Anglo-Saxon countries (the US, the UK, and Australia, among others), both youth and adults have a relatively low unemployment rate, though the youth rate still exceeds that of adults.

More generally, there is considerable cross-country variation when it comes to youth’s labor market success. For instance, many central European countries (especially Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), Anglo-Saxon ones, and some Asian countries (especially Japan) have lower youth unemployment and inactivity rates, and higher employment rates and earnings than the rest of the EU—especially southern and eastern Europe as well as, to a lesser extent, the Scandinavian countries. This comparison also holds true for a number of Latin American, Central Asian, and African countries.

Important differences have emerged in terms of how young people in different countries have faced the recent global financial crisis. Figure 1 compares groups of countries with similar SWT institutions from 2000 to 2015. The two panels show the youth unemployment rate and the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates, respectively. The youth unemployment rate (shown in Panel A) has increased during this period in each group of countries. The 2007 financial crisis had a particularly strong impact in the Anglo-Saxon, eastern European, and, above all, the southern European countries. The reason for this vulnerability is probably the greater degree of labor market flexibility in these groups of countries. It should be noted that labor flexibility impacts the entire workforce in Anglo-Saxon countries, but only new hires in the eastern and southern European countries. In these latter two groups, labor flexibility has been achieved only recently through the so-called two-tier reforms, which generally only affect new entrants into the labor market, without changing the contracts of the majority of the existing workforce. These reforms essentially make it more convenient for firms to hire workers on temporary contracts. Temporary contracts, in turn, are the first to be discontinued during economic crises, simply because the easiest way for management to reduce staff numbers is by not renewing temporary contracts upon their natural expiration date. Thanks to this marked increase in temporary contracts, firms find it much easier to apply the so-called last in, first out (LIFO) principle, usually at the expense of young people in particular. According to this principle, when necessary, managers tend to fire the most recently hired workers first, which reduces both the loss of human capital for the firm as well as the overall social cost to society, since the youngest workforce is the easiest to relocate and is often unmarried and/or has no children. Nonetheless, the post-crisis recovery is well underway in the Anglo-Saxon and eastern European countries, whereas youth unemployment remains extremely high in southern European countries. A persistent slow growth has played a significant role in keeping youth unemployment high in this last group of countries.

Youth unemployment rate and the ratio of
                        youth to adult unemployment rates

Figure 1, Panel B looks at the ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates. Each group, with the exception of the southern European countries, saw an increase in this ratio in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The reason that the ratio in southern European countries does not appear to have been affected is because the crisis has been so deep and prolonged in that region that it has also impacted the adults to a much larger extent than elsewhere; indeed, the fact that adults have been affected so significantly is often seen as an indicator of the depth of the crisis in these countries [5]. By 2015, the Anglo-Saxon countries had returned to their pre-crisis ratio levels or even below. This is likely related to the fact that both firing and hiring are easier than in the other country groups.

Another typical aspect of youth behavior is that they tend to seek jobs in a haphazard and discontinuous way. They are particularly affected by news about the labor market outlook and tend to get more easily discouraged than other demographic groups when the average unemployment rate is high. Since many young people are not actively seeking work, they tend to be classified more often as inactive rather than unemployed, but, in fact, they are still seeking a job. To take this behavior into account, many observers suggest looking at youth’s inactivity rate as well as their unemployment rate.

In addition to these two metrics, the NEET rate offers another statistical indicator that is able to account for young people’s tendency to be discouraged in their job search. NEET accounts for the tendency of young people to move more frequently between different labor market statuses, including education and training. Being in education and/or training should not be considered as a negative state for young people, since their main aim should be to build their own human capital. Moreover, in recent times, young people are increasingly involved in insecure, very-short-term labor market experiences, especially in those countries where labor flexibility has been achieved by liberalizing temporary work arrangements. In fact, in most countries, but especially in southern and eastern Europe, many young people are hired on short fixed-term contracts. This trend has led to calls for labor market reforms aimed at introducing a single type of permanent labor contract, which would entail less employment protection and lower litigation costs, and be achieved through the definition of pre-defined severance pay as well as lower fiscal and social security costs than are currently associated with fixed-term contracts [6]. The Italian Jobs Act of 2015 is one reform that moves in this direction.

Last, but not least, another commonly observed fact is that youth labor markets around the world are segmented. Some young people, especially those coming from rich families, tend to experience a smooth SWT. They achieve the highest educational level they wish and soon after find the jobs best suited for them. On the other hand, there are segments of young people who remain at a constant disadvantage in the labor market. This primarily includes low-educated young people, especially those without compulsory educational attainment and those who come from a poor background.

Seeking explanations for the youth disadvantage

Why do young people experience a disadvantage in the labor market? A mix of factors should be considered when attempting to answer this question. First and foremost among these is the lack of sufficient economic growth in many countries. The youth disadvantage is strongly and inversely affected by the business cycle: when an economy is expanding, its youth unemployment rate decreases more than the average, while it increases more than average when an economy is contracting. A study from 2012 supports this, by showing that the youth unemployment rate is particularly sensitive to economic and financial crises [7].

A mix of factors explain this counter-cyclical nature. First, the aforementioned LIFO principle plays a role, as it disproportionately impacts young workers. Second, the LIFO principle is amplified by policies that reduce the cost of firing, either for all workers, as in the Anglo-Saxon countries, or primarily for young workers, as is the case in countries that have implemented two-tier reforms that only apply to the new hires, such as most south and east European countries. If the majority of new hires are made through temporary contracts, it is easy to discontinue such contracts by simply not renewing them. This leads to a situation in which many youth cycle rapidly in and out of employment.

In addition to macroeconomic factors, one should consider more structural factors. In fact, differences in the youth disadvantage across countries are stubbornly persistent, and this is typically explained by different institutional settings. Structural factors are directly affected by the way in which SWT systems are organized and, indirectly, depend on policies regarding the education system and employment protection legislation. These institutions affect the length and degree of smoothness of youth’s SWT, and are so important in terms of labor market outcomes because they affect the main difference between youth and adults, namely the lack of two of the three main components of human capital: general and job-related competences. Human capital is not only based on education, but also on these components, which generate what has been called the “experience gap of young people” [3].

This gap is the main reason firms prefer adults to young people. Therefore, the gap generates what is sometimes called the “experience trap”: firms need not only general competences in their employees, which are gained through education, but also work-related competences and skills, which can be gained only through work experience. While general competences and work experience are gained quite quickly in any type of job and are easily transferred to any other type of job, job-specific competences and specific work experience can only be gained and used in the specific job for which they apply. Moreover, these specific traits require a long period of time to acquire. Examples of general competences acquired through any kind of work experience (e.g. a short time working at a fast-food restaurant) are: timeliness, ability to deal with the fact that in any organization there is a hierarchical and social division of labor, ability to deal with customers, and ability to use a word processing program. Examples of job-specific work experience are: teaching pupils for a teacher or professor, preparing a summons for a barrister, or preparing a tax return for a financial advisor.

Both general and job-related competences are subject to market failure. One study dating from the 1960s showed that it is not convenient for firms to provide general training because the competences acquired can be easily transferred to a competitor when workers change jobs [8]. Consequently, firms will tend to transfer the cost of training to workers via lower wages, unless the state offers financial or practical training support.

Likewise, job-specific competences tend to generate market failures and thereby require intervention from the state to be fully developed. As these competences are acquired through long periods of work experience, job-specific training is unlikely to be provided to workers on temporary contracts. Neither workers nor firms have sufficient incentives to invest in this form of training when contracts are temporary. It is therefore not uncommon that workers wishing to start a liberal profession, for instance, will find it hard to receive the necessary training from firms. One way to overcome this problem is by means of long-term contracts and wage structures that increase with job tenure to make workers more faithful to their employer [9].

Temporary work can be a tool to provide general but not firm-specific human capital. Due to their lower cost to firms, temporary contracts could incentivize them to provide on-the-job training to build general human capital, because workers will pay the cost of training via lower than market wages. Conversely, employers will be willing to provide on-the-job training to build firm-specific human capital in employees under the condition that the employee remains at the firm long enough to fully return the firm’s investment. Toward this end, firms tend to offer increasing wages to their employees for the exact purpose of incentivizing them to remain with the firm for this sufficiently long period of time.

Lower wage costs, which are attached to fixed-term (temporary) contracts, might be sufficient to allow young people to acquire the training that they need to overcome their gap in general, but not their gap in job-specific human capital. In other words, while temporary contracts may incentivize employers to hire young people, thereby imparting them with general skills, these arrangements will not lead to the development of job-specific competences. This is because firms worry that they will not benefit from the returns to job-specific competences that young workers would acquire if given job-specific training while under temporary contracts.

Differences in school-to-work transition regimes

The state plays a critical role in helping young people acquire all three of the key components of human capital. However, the way in which such help is provided differs dramatically across countries and the mix of institutions involved is highly complex; hence, it is important to identify different regimes or models used in different countries.

SWT systems differ on whether it is the mission of the education system itself to provide work-related competences (as in dual education systems) or whether young people are expected to acquire these competences after completing their education (as in sequential education systems) [5].

With their flexible labor markets, Anglo-Saxon countries provide the best example of sequential education systems, in which young people are able to acquire their work-related competences directly through work. If the labor market is sufficiently flexible, young people are able to move from one job to the next in a relatively quick and easy way, which allows them to gain a variety of work-related competences fairly quickly. To understand the importance of labor flexibility to reduce the experience gap of young people, consider a simple example. In the US, the annual job finding rate is above 60%, which means that 60 out of every 100 unemployed people find a job within the year, and, hence, if chances are equally distributed among unemployed individuals, every unemployed person has, on average, a chance to find a job in less than two years, which is a relatively short period of time.

Another important feature of Anglo-Saxon countries is their aversion to nationwide wage-setting mechanisms. Such practices tend to equalize wages across age groups, forcing firms to pay equal wages for different human capital and skill levels. In the absence of these nationwide policies, the ability to pay lower entry wages for young people incentivizes firms to hire them.

With its apprenticeship system involving about 60% of any young cohort, Germany is the best example of a dual education system. In Germany, the majority of young people acquire work-related competences during school, through their apprenticeship contract. Professional universities are also provided for graduates from the apprenticeship system. The main limitations of the German approach are to be found in the excessively specific knowledge of workers, which could be an obstacle in periods of dramatic structural change. Additionally, students are subject to early tracking, in which they are obliged to choose at the age of ten between going to a Gymnasium (a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, which qualifies students for university) or other school types (which would qualify students for an apprenticeship). At this age, individuals have not fully developed their individual preferences; therefore adults usually make the choice instead [10].

Other types of SWT systems are more cumbersome (e.g. the Scandinavian model) or disorganized (e.g. the southern European model) in how they build work-related competences. Scandinavian countries include only small aspects of the dual principle in work-related learning at school in combination with rigid labor markets. These countries tend to help young people gain work-related competences by means of active labor market policies, implemented on a large scale and provided to everybody who has not found a job within four months of the beginning of their unemployment spell or completion of education. This is called the Youth Guarantee and has been recently extended by the EU to all EU countries.

Last, but not least, the southern European SWT, which is similar to that found in many Latin countries all over the world, also tends to include some aspects of the dual principle and quite rigid labor markets. For example, in Italy, in the early 1990s before the recent labor reforms, the job finding rate was only about 13%, which means that 13 out of 100 unemployed job seekers found a job within a year of their unemployment spell’s start. This meant that, on average, an unemployment spell was likely to last just less than eight years, which is obviously a very long duration. Only after the recent reforms (started in the late 1990s and still ongoing) has the job finding rate increased to about 30%, but this only applies to new hires. Only since the start of the 2010s have educational reforms introduced work-related learning into students’ curricula and the state adopted some proactive labor market measures similar to those found in the central European and Scandinavian systems.

Limitations and gaps

The most important limitation in the context of youth labor market performance is the tendency of labor economists to overrate the importance of labor markets and employment protection legislation. Labor flexibility and labor market institutions more generally are only some of the factors that affect the development of human capital among youth. Another important factor, which has only recently been understood as crucial, is the role of educational policy and well-designed educational reforms.

Additionally, the strong emphasis on economic growth, which is typical of the Keynesian approach, is often exaggerated by economists. Of course, economic growth is an obvious pre-condition to increase employment, especially among young people, but some aspects of the youth-specific challenges are independent of the business cycle and the degree of labor market flexibility. Instead, they depend on the way in which SWT systems are structured and, in particular, on the way education systems are built.

More information should be collected on how the structure of an education system affects youth labor market issues, rather than the current focus on the role of employment protection legislation. How much do countries spend on education? How interlinked are education systems with the labor market? How flexible are education systems and how many limitations are imposed on young people preventing them from fully developing their talent? All these questions should be addressed to get a better understanding about the mechanisms and reasons for differences in youth unemployment.

Summary and policy advice

Young people are the most affected by adverse economic conditions. One of the main reasons for this is that firms prefer to fire the most recently hired workers when layoffs are called for. They do this for both social and economic reasons: young people have fewer family commitments, which allows them to transition into new work situations more easily, and they possess less firm-specific human capital, thereby minimizing the firm’s losses when laying off employees.

Structural and institutional factors also matter. Young people are becoming ever more educated around the world, but they still have lower human capital than adults because they lack work-related competences. These competences can only be acquired on the job, through general and job-specific work experience. This experience gap generates an experience trap as employers search for employees who already possess competences, but young people need work experience to acquire them.

SWT regimes differ across countries in how they address this youth human capital gap. Anglo-Saxon countries utilize high-quality education and flexible labor markets. Central European countries, especially Germany, employ the dual principle of education (apprenticeship). Scandinavian countries have a sequential education system like the Anglo-Saxon countries, but rigid labor markets; they prevent long-term unemployment by providing proactive schemes on a large scale. Meanwhile, eastern and southern European countries are still trying to reform their institutions to come in line with these other systems.

In sum, if the youth disadvantage indeed depends on a human capital gap, then it is not by chance that the countries with the lowest youth disadvantage have education systems that are more integrated with the labor market and a modern system of “flexicurity” at work. Flexicurity means not only flexibility, but also labor security, which implies that if not job stability, then at least employment and income stability should be provided by means of passive income support, while proactive training schemes increase employability. From the point of view of young people, it should now be clear that a well-designed education system is important to have efficient flexicurity. While each country must address their own unique challenges, these features do appear key in providing youth with the tools they need to succeed in the labor market.


The author thanks two anonymous referees and the IZA World of Labor editors for many helpful suggestions on earlier drafts. Previous work of the author contains a larger number of background references for the material presented here and has been used intensively in all major parts of this article [3]. The author has received no financial, material, or personal source of support for his research.

Competing interests

The IZA World of Labor project is committed to the IZA Guiding Principles of Research Integrity. The author declares to have observed these principles.

© Francesco Pastore

Pastore, F. Why is youth unemployment so high and different across countries?. IZA World of Labor 2018: 420 doi: 10.15185/izawol.420



Trabajo infantil, una problemática social

Por: Francisco Escobar 

El trabajo infantil continúa como una problemática que Guatemala no ha podido enfrentar a lo largo de varias décadas,  más bien,  es una situación que se ha agravado año con año.

El Departamento de Trabajo de Estados Unidos, reconoce a Guatemala como uno de los 8 países de América Latina y el Caribe,  que presentan avances poco  significativos en la lucha contra el Trabajo Infantil, dentro de los 26 países analizados en la región y otros 130 países a nivel mundial.

El término trabajo infantil,  se define como todo trabajo que priva a los niños de su niñez, su potencial y su dignidad, en ocasiones perjudica su desarrollo físico y psicológico, interfiere con su escolarización, al privarles de la posibilidad de asistir a clases. En muchos casos, son niños y niñas, a quienes se les obliga a abandonar los estudios, de forma prematura o en algunos casos,  les exigen combinar ambas actividades, el estudio con un trabajo pesado, lo que puede consumir gran cantidad de su tiempo.

El director general de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT)  Guy Ryder, advirtió que todavía existen 152 millones de niños y niñas, víctimas del trabajo infantil, e hizo un llamado a la comunidad internacional para trabajar de manera conjunta y lograr su total erradicación, de aquí al 2025. ‘Todavía hay 152 millones de niños y niñas víctimas del trabajo infantil, es decir, casi 1 de cada 10, en el mundo. De ellos, casi la mitad realiza trabajos peligrosos. Es preciso reconocer  que el progreso alcanzado es muy desigual’, señaló el ejecutivo de la OIT.

En el discurso de apertura de la Cuarta Conferencia Mundial sobre la Erradicación Sostenida del Trabajo Infantil, celebrada en Buenos Aires, Argentina, en noviembre del año pasado, Ryder, reconoció los avances alcanzados sobre el tema en los últimos 20 años, pero advirtió que, aún queda mucho camino por recorrer para acabar con esta problemática. Según las últimas estimaciones de la OIT, hay aproximadamente 25 millones de personas, a nivel mundial, que son víctimas del trabajo forzoso.

En Guatemala,  la Comisión Nacional para la Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil, (Conapeti),  es la entidad encargada de coordinar e implementar la hoja de ruta para hacer de Guatemala un país libre de Trabajo Infantil. Esta constituye en una estrategia nacional, donde participan diferentes instituciones, públicas, privadas y de cooperación internacional.

Uno de los participantes principales es el Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social de Guatemala (Mintrab), el cual asumió el compromiso de dar seguimiento a dicha estrategia, para el período 2016-2020. Es una herramienta que permitirá alcanzar los objetivos a largo plazo, todo en el marco de coordinación interinstitucional  con las distintas entidades del Estado relacionadas con el tema, para lograr los resultados propuestos y lograr erradicar el trabajo infantil, en el país.

La Conapeti, es presidida por el vicepresidente de la República, Jafeth Cabrera, quien en caso de ausencia puede ceder el mandato al titular del Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social, en este caso Leticia Teleguario.

Otras entidades participantes son el Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación (MAGA),  Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social (MIDES),  Ministerio de Gobernación (Mingob), Secretaría de Bienestar Social de la Presidencia de la República,  Secretaria Presidencial de la Mujer, Secretaria de Coordinación Ejecutiva de la Presidencia,  Secretaria contra la Violencia Sexual, Explotación y Trata de Personas, Secretaria de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional de la Presidencia de la República, director general del Consejo Nacional de la Juventud (CONJUVE), presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Municipalidades, presidente de la Junta Directiva del Instituto Guatemalteco de Seguridad Social, entre muchas más que velan por el cumplimiento de este documento.

El Mintrab, dentro de sus acciones en la estrategia  mencionada, realizó en el último año, 5 mil 734 visitas de inspección a empresas a nivel nacional, en la búsqueda del rescate de niños trabajadores. Actividades que se realizan para prevenir sobre el trabajo infantil, dichas revisiones estuvieron a cargo de la Inspección General de Trabajo (IGT). El resultado consistió en el rescate de 99 personas entre menores y adolescentes trabajadores, de quienes 28, eran víctimas de las peores formas de trabajo infantil.

La Encuesta Nacional de Condiciones de Vida (Encovi), que se realizó en el año 2016, con el apoyo de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT),  detectó que  Alta Verapaz, Chiquimula, Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Zacapa, Petén y Jalapa, fueron identificados como  los departamentos con mayores índices de niñez en condiciones de trabajo infantil.

De la población en condiciones de trabajo, aproximadamente el 50% se dedica a la agricultura o a actividades relacionadas a esta, por ello, se le identifica como un fenómeno que afecta principalmente a la niñez del área rural del país. Se le identifica a esta población, en situación de riesgo, porque amenaza su proceso de crecimiento, su educación y su desarrollo óptimo a futuro.

En un informe, publicado por el Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales (Icefi), indica que en la actualidad, cerca de 7 millones de niños, niñas y adolescentes habitan en Guatemala, cantidad que nos convierte en el país con mayor cantidad de población en este rango de edades. Además, representa el 37% de la población total centroamericana de niños, niñas y adolescentes.

Por su parte el  director de la Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG), Nery Rodenas, se refiere como  indignantes las condiciones de vida de la niñez en el territorio nacional, azotada por la desnutrición, la violencia y la marginación, sin que exista una política pública  que garantice su desarrollo adecuado. ‘Los niños y adolescentes guatemaltecos sobreviven en una situación de desigualdad y exclusión, que además los somete a violencia física y estructural’, opinó Rodenas.

Por aparte, agregó el director de la ODHAG, en su mayoría, esta población debe laborar para ayudar a sus familias, por la extrema pobreza en que viven y, es a partir de lo cual muchos de ellos,  son víctimas de explotación y de trata de personas.

Según la experta y representante adjunta de UNICEF en Guatemala, Mariko Kagoshima, ‘el trabajo es una de las principales barreras a la lactancia materna y contribuye a la decisión de las madres de abandonar esta práctica en un tiempo temprano’.

La UNICEF, informó sobre la existencia de estudios sobre lactancia materna, los cuales evidencian que,  intervenciones como la licencia de maternidad y el apoyo en el lugar de trabajo, aumentaron en más de un 30%  las tasas de lactancia materna.  Además la misma entidad argumenta que la pobreza es la principal causa de trabajo infantil y en otros estudios también indican que  existe un ciclo vicioso entre ambas problemáticas.  Pero se reconoce en todo análisis sobre el tema, que los niños involucrados en el trabajo infantil, realizan tareas ya sea para pagar sus estudios en escuelas u otro tipo de gastos o porque su familia necesita beneficiarse de lo remunerado por el menor.

El número de niños y jóvenes que se dedican al trabajo infantil ha ido en crecimiento, tanto en Guatemala como a nivel latinoamericano, según lo reflejan las informaciones proporcionadas por el sitio Notiamérica. En dicho portal, destaca que en Guatemala, hacia el 2016, había 850 mil menores  en labores remuneradas y el 70% de ellos, habitan en áreas rurales, y el 60% es indígena. El trabajo de estos menores se concentra en actividades agrícolas, ayudantes de buses o ventas informales.


Según la OIT, en México en el 2013, habían aproximadamente 2.5 millones de niños, niñas y adolescentes ocupados en sectores agropecuario, comercial y de servicios, de los cuales el 46% de ellos no les remuneraban, según lo acordado por las personas que los contrataban. En Perú, el 70% de niños empleados,  comprenden las edades entre 5 a 17 años, quienes laboran en trabajos peligrosos, tales como los relacionados a la industria artesanal minera. Esta labor absorbe aproximadamente el trabajo de 500 mil niños y niñas, agrega la OIT.

En Colombia, se registran, 1 millón 91 mil menores de edad, sometidos al trabajo infantil, según registros del Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE). De esta cantidad casi el 50% son niños sin remuneración y  285 mil son asalariados por realizar trabajos domésticos. 


En todo el mundo, 218 millones de niños de entre 5 y 17 años están ocupados en la producción económica.

Entre ellos, 152 millones son víctimas del trabajo infantil; casi la mitad, o sea equivalente a 73 millones, están en situación de riesgo y peligro.

72 millones se concentran en África, 62 millones en Asia; 10.7 millones en toda América; 1.1 millones en los Estados árabes; y  5.5 millones en Europa y Asia Central.

Casi la mitad de los 152 millones de niños víctimas del trabajo infantil tienen entre 5 y 11 años; 42 millones (28%) tienen entre 12 y 14 años; y 37 millones (24%), entre 15 y 17 años.

88 millones son varones y 64 millones son niñas.

El trabajo de menores, se concentra en actividades como la agricultura (71%), que incluye  la pesca, la silvicultura, la ganadería y la acuicultura. 17%  trabajan en el sector de servicios y el 12% en el sector industrial, principalmente, la minería.

Fuente: Estimación mundial sobre el trabajo infantil: Resultados y tendencias, 2012-2016, Ginebra, septiembre de 2017. OIT


La receta equivocada contra el desempleo

En Costa Rica un proyecto de ley pretende obligar a las empresas a que el 25% de sus contrataciones en planilla sea de jóvenes con edades entre 17 y 24 años.


El problema de desempleo que afecta a miles de jóvenes en Costa Rica y en los países centroamericanos no se resuelve simplemente obligando a las empresas privadas a contratar determinada proporción de empleados jóvenes, sin importar sus calificaciones y habilidades, o peor aún, sin considerar si existe o no la necesidad real de contratación.

Un proyecto de ley en Costa Rica refleja la miopía con que el sector público visualiza un problema tan grave como el desempleo juvenil. En su limitada visión de la realidad económica del país, los diputados proponen resolver el problema con una ley que obligaría a las empresas a dar una hora libre por día para capacitación y a que el 25% de sus contrataciones en planilla esté conformada por empleados con edades entre 17 y 24 años,

Como bien señalan los industriales costarricenses, la solución al desempleo juvenil está en la implementación del modelo de educación dual, y no en una ley que lo único que hará es elevar los costos de producción del sector privado, y continuar deteriorando la ya delicada competitividad del país.

Ver “Educación dual: Sí se puede

Contra el desempleo juvenil probemos con educación dual

Aprendiendo en el trabajo: Educación dual

Del comunicado de la Cámara de Industrias:

CICR se opone a mal llamado proyecto de “Estímulo de EmpleoJoven”

  • Industriales señalan que proyecto de ley no soluciona el problema de empleo para los jóvenes.
  • Las dos preocupaciones principales son: la obligación que se impondría a las empresas de que un 25% de las contrataciones en planilla sea de personas entre 17 y 24 años de edad; y la obligación de otorgar una hora al día para capacitación. 

Martes 7 de noviembre de 2017. La Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica manifestó su oposición al Proyecto de Ley No. 20.282 mal llamado de “Estímulo al Empleo Joven”. Su opinión fue manifestada formalmente a la Comisión Permanente Especial de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia de la Asamblea Legislativa, que realizó una consulta a la Cámara.
Enrique Egloff, Presidente de la CICR, señaló que incentivar el empleo en los jóvenes es una muy buena intención pero explicó que el proyecto de ley se encuentra muy mal planteado. “Aunque el objetivo del proyecto es muy loable, ya que toma en cuenta que el estudio no sea obstáculo para la inserción laboral de los jóvenes, su conceptualización no es la correcta”, mencionó Egloff.

“El desempleo se soluciona con más competitividad para más producción y crecimiento de las empresas. Mediante el establecimiento de porcentajes de edades en la planilla y el otorgamiento de la hora diaria de permiso para estudiar, no se soluciona el problema el desempleo en los jóvenes”, agregó Egloff.

La principal oposición al proyecto de ley es porque obliga a las empresas a contratar al menos un 25% de personas entre 17 y 24 años en la planilla. “El problema del empleo para los jóvenes no se resuelve obligando a las empresas a un determinado porcentaje. La verdadera solución se encuentra en la aprobación del Proyecto de Ley de Educación Dual propuesto por el sector productivo desde hace varios años. El principal problema que tenemos es que ni siquiera se está discutiendo la educación dual en el país.”, añadió Egloff.

La CICR explicó que la estimulación a la creación del empleo joven debe estar enfocada en la generación de experiencia profesional. En la carta que los industriales enviaron a la Comisión Permanente Especial de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia, explicaron que la experiencia del estudiante se soluciona haciéndolo partícipe de una etapa de capacitación que además le sirve para darse a conocer en la empresa y por ende en el mercado laboral.

La Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica ha señalado que la generación de empleo es uno de los principales problemas del país y he indicado reiteradamente que una de las grandes deudas de la Asamblea Legislativa es la no discusión ni aprobación del Proyecto de Ley de Formación Dual.

Otra de las razones por las que la CICR se opone a la aprobación Proyecto de Ley No. 20.282 “Estímulo al Empleo Joven” es la obligación que contiene de dar una hora libre a los estudiantes para que estudie.

La CICR explicó que la idea de dar una hora diaria libre al estudiante para que estudie es contraproducente desde el punto de vista de costo, competitividad y productividad de empresa, tomando en cuenta que si debe mantenerse un 25% de su planilla en ese rango de edades, sería un 25% del personal con una hora diaria de permiso.

“Las empresas costarricenses ya tienen altos costos operativos y no podemos sumar uno más”, manifestó Egloff.

La CICR aprovechó la oportunidad para solicitar a la Comisión el respaldo al proyecto de ley sobre Educación Dual, con informe de mayoría favorable ya emitido, para que nuestros jóvenes se puedan capacitar de una manera más profesional, favoreciendo a las partes involucradas, tanto empresas como colaboradores, y al país en general.


Youth Employment in Latin America

A look at the plight of young people seeking — or not seeking — employment in Latin American countries. #MakeoverMonday #VizForSocialGood



Cinco visualizaciones sobre el empleo joven de América Latina y el Caribe

En colaboración con dos iniciativas de ámbito internacional, #MakeoverMonday y #VizForSocialGood, recientemente llevamos a cabo un reto de visualizaciones de datos. En él, quisimos poner el foco en la situación de los jóvenes en el mercado laboral de América Latina y el Caribe. ¿Cómo lo vieron los expertos en simplificar y hacer más fácil la comprensión de datos?

-Click here to read this post in English-

El reto

El reto consistía en hacer una visualización tomando algunas cifras sobre empleo joven disponibles en nuestro portal de datos, el SIMS. El estilo era totalmente libre: cada participante podía enfocar la visualización a su gusto, tomando toda o parte de la información disponible en el set de datos del desafío.

Los resultados

Al tener mucha información fue importante que cada participante hiciera única su visualización, tomando el tema de manera general o enfocándose en un país o en un solo indicador. Esto ayudó a ejemplificar el problema de desempleo entre jóvenes de la región en distintas maneras, de un modo más atractivo que una tabla o gráfico tradicional y transmitiendo el mensaje rápidamente. Te invitamos a hacer clic en el siguiente mosaico (elaborado por Rodrigo Calloni), en el que se encuentran el casi medio centenar de visualizaciones presentadas. ¡Gracias a todos los participantes!


Las cinco mejores

De todas las visualizaciones que recibimos, queremos destacar cinco que ilustran el panorama del empleo joven en América Latina y el Caribe de una forma fácil, eficiente y dinámica. Muchas de las visualizaciones se presentaron en inglés, ya que se trató de un desafío de ámbito internacional.

Título: Youth Employment in Latin America – Where are the young people in the labour market? (Autor: Satish Ramakrishna @satishr2017).


  • Se enfoca en los datos sobre los sectores donde se emplean los jóvenes de la región y por país.
  • Da los datos generales de la región como población, empleados, desempleados y económicamente activos.


Título: Is unemployment a problem for Young people in Latin America & the Caribbean (Autor: Steve Wood).

  • Muestra los datos de los ninis, desempleo, empleo e informalidad.


Título: Youth Employment in Latin America (Autor: Mike Cisneros).

  • Muestra todos los datos dados en el sistema sobre empleabilidad de los jóvenes en América Latina y el Caribe.


Título: An Examination of Latin Americn Youth Employment Status (Autor: Kevin Knorpp).

  • Muestra y compara los datos sobre la población joven en cada país, así como el desempleo, empleo, formalidad y ninis.


Título: Women’s Employment Data (Autor: David Krupp).

  • Los datos son enfocados en las mujeres jóvenes de la región.


La mochila y el currículum

Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Llueve a ratos, y Madrid está frío y desapacible. Pasan paraguas al otro lado del escaparate de la librería de mi amigo Antonio Méndez, el librero de la calle Mayor. Estamos allí de charla, fumando un pitillo rodeados de libros mientras Alberto, el empleado flaco, alto y tranquilo, que no ha leído una novela mía en su vida ni piensa hacerlo -«ni falta que me hace», suele gruñirme el cabrón- ordena las últimas novedades. En ésas entra un chico joven con una mochila a la espalda, y se queda un poco aparte, el aire tímido, esperando a que Antonio y yo hagamos una pausa en la conversación. Al fin, en voz muy baja, le pregunta a Antonio si puede dejarle un currículum. Claro, responde el librero. Déjamelo. Y entonces el chico saca de la mochila un mazo de folios, cada uno con su foto de carnet grapada, y le entrega uno. Muchas gracias, murmura, con la misma timidez de antes. Si alguna vez tiene trabajo para mí, empieza a decir. Luego se calla. Sonríe un poco, lo mete todo de nuevo en la mochila y sale a la calle, bajo la lluvia. Antonio me mira, grave. Vienen por docenas, dice. Chicos y chicas jóvenes. Cada uno con su currículum. Y no puedes imaginarte de qué nivel. Licenciados en esto y aquello, cursos en el extranjero, idiomas. Y ya ves. Hay que joderse.

Le cojo el folio de la mano. Fulano de Tal, nacido en 1976. Licenciado en Historia, cursos de esto y lo otro en París y en Italia. Tres idiomas. Lugares, empresas, fechas. Cuento hasta siete trabajos basura, de ésos de tres o seis meses y luego a la calle. Miro la foto de carnet: un apunte de sonrisa, mirada confiada, tal vez de esperanza. Luego echo un vistazo al otro lado del escaparate, pero el joven ha desaparecido ya entre los paraguas, bajo la lluvia. Estará, supongo, entrando en otras tiendas, en otras librerías o en donde sea, sacando su conmovedor currículum de la mochila. Le devuelvo el papel a Antonio, que se encoge de hombros, impotente, y lo guarda en un cajón. Él mismo tuvo que despedir hace poco a un empleado, incapaz de pagar dos sueldos tal y como está el patio. Antes de que cierre el cajón, alcanzo a ver más fotos de carnet grapadas a folios: chicos y chicas jóvenes con la misma mirada y la misma sonrisa a punto de borrárseles de la boca.

España va bien y todo eso, me digo. La puta España. De pronto la tristeza se me desliza dentro como gotas frías, y el día se vuelve más desapacible y gris. Qué estamos haciendo con ellos, maldita sea. Con estos chicos. Antonio me mira y enciende otro cigarrillo. Sé que piensa lo mismo. En qué estamos convirtiendo a todos esos jóvenes de la mochila, que tras la ilusión de unos estudios y una carrera, tras los sueños y el esfuerzo, se ven recorriendo la calle repartiendo currículum en los que dejan los últimos restos de esperanza. Licenciados en Historia o en lo que sea, ocho, años de EGB, cinco de formación profesional, cursos, sacrificios personales y familiares para aprender idiomas en academias que quiebran y te dejan tirado tras pagar la matrícula. Indefensión, trampas, ratoneras sin salida, empresarios sin escrúpulos que te exprimen antes de devolverte a la calle, políticos que miran hacia otro lado o lo adornan de bonito, sindicatos con más demagogia y apoltronamiento que vergüenza. Trabajos basura, desempleos basura, currículums basura.

Y cuando el milagro se produce, es con la exigencia de que estés dispuesto a todo: puta de taller, puta de empresa, boca cerrada para sobrevivir hasta que te echen; y si tienes buen culo, a ser posible, deja que el jefe te lo sobe. Aún así, chaval, chavala, tienes que dar las gracias por los cambios de turno arbitrarios, los fines de semana trabajados, las seiscientas horas extras al año de las que sólo ochenta figuran como tales en la nómina. Y si encima pretendes mantener una familia y pagar un piso date con un canto en los dientes de que no te sodomicen gratis. Flexibilidad laboral, lo llaman. Y gracias a la flexibilidad de los cojones se han generado, dice el portavoz gubernamental de turno tropecientos mil empleos más, y somos luz y fan de Europa. Guau. Gracias a eso, también, un chaval de veintipocos años puede disfrutar de la excitante experiencia de conocer ocho empleos de chichinabo en tres o cuatro años, y al cabo verse en la calle con la mochila, buscándose la vida bajo la lluvia. Partiendo una y otra vez de cero. Flexibilidad laboral. Rediós. Cuánto eufemismo y cuánta mierda. A ver qué pasa cuando, de tanto flexionarlo, se rompa el tinglado y se vaya todo al carajo, y en vez de currículums lo que ese chico lleve en la mochila sean cócteles molotov.