Globally, 267 million young people are unemployed or underemployed, with many lacking the skills needed to enter the workforce. This can lead youth down negative paths—to violence, risky behaviours, migration, trafficking, anti-social habits and depression or suicide.
Many factors prevent youth from being fully engaged economically, such as low education, mental health challenges, a lack of access to life skills opportunities or technical and vocational education and training (TVET), along with the stigma they may experience coming from impoverished or violent communities.
Refugees and internally displaced youth are the most affected. As of 2021, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached an all-time high. Among refugee adolescents, only 31 per cent are enrolled in secondary education and just 3 per cent in tertiary education, far from corresponding global averages of 84 per cent and 37 per cent.
Fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, with school closures and economic downturns causing further disruption to youth education and livelihoods. As of 2022, youth unemployment rates reached approximately 14 per cent, with young people in the labour force three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.