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Youth Unemployment and Policy Solutions Essay

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Updated: Jul 9th, 2021

The Issue

Nowadays, the problem of unemployment affects people in different age groups. Youth unemployment (YU) is especially problematic since for people aged 15-24, the lack of available jobs is associated with the inability to pay for education and start their own families. Despite significant economic differences between countries, the problem affects young people all over the world. As of 2018, the average YU rates ranged from 3.7% of the force aged 15-24 in Japan to 53% in South Africa and did not exceed 9% in the United States (“Youth Unemployment Rate (Indicator”). Importantly, YU is closely interconnected with minority discrimination. For instance, in the United States, the group with the largest unemployment rates is African-American young men and women between 16 and 19 years old (“Labor Force Statistics”). Minority groups can be affected by this problem due to a variety of factors, including potential employers’ biases, educational inequality, and the lack of necessary skills.

The growth of YU rates has a variety of negative consequences, impacting both economic development and people’s quality of life. The inability to address the problem of unemployment in the given age group may result in the growth of criminal activity, child poverty, and people’s negative perceptions of life (Kalleberg). The causes of YU are being thoroughly researched. The following factors may be the potential causes of the problem:

  • Age-based discrimination in the job market;
  • The lack of necessary qualifications;
  • Short supply of jobs;
  • Ethnic discrimination;
  • Globalization and technological advancement (Kalleberg 36).

Policy Solutions

Apprenticeship Systems

A larger number of strategies expected to reduce YU rates has been proposed in different countries. Given that unemployment exists due to individuals’ limited opportunity to get necessary skills, the first potential solution is based on young people’s access to courses helping them to get any professional skills that are in demand. Such policies are widely used in both developed and developing countries to strengthen partnerships between educational institutions and key employers in some regions. As a potential solution, the creation of apprenticeship systems aimed at the development of skills is generally believed to be an effective practice (Riphahn and Zibrowius 33). Unlike older people, young citizens do not have networks that would make them aware of job opportunities matching their skill levels (Kalleberg 37). Taking this fact into consideration, apprenticeship programs are particularly important since they introduce future specialists to certain professional fields, at least helping them to understand their future employers’ expectations.

Being used in many countries with high GDPs, apprenticeship systems have a variety of advantages when it comes to the problem of unemployment. Some of the most significant benefits of such policies are listed below:

  • Future employees get helpful experience and learn to solve real-life problems;
  • Apprenticeship trainings help reduce dissatisfaction with the chosen jobs;
  • Young people make their first professional contacts, which can be helpful in the future;
  • Apprenticeship programs are focused on the development of practical skills that are in demand (Riphahn and Zibrowius 35).

Even though such policies can lead to positive changes in the situation with unemployment among young people, they should not be the only option to rely on due to their potential disadvantages. The weak points of apprenticeship programs include the following:

  • Not all programs for young people are fee-free;
  • There is no evidence that apprenticeship programs reduce race-based inequality in access to jobs.

Support of Youth Entrepreneurship

There are many policies that aim to reduce the problem of unemployment by implementing initiatives that support youth entrepreneurship. According to experts from the UN, to reduce YU, it is necessary to provide young people with more opportunities to start their own businesses and contribute to their countries’ economic development (UNCTAD 86). The proposed policies involve the simplification of procedures needed to start a business and the introduction of start-up incentives for new businesses led by young people (UNCTAD 86). Such programs should always be implemented with attention to the economic situation in particular countries and the presence of necessary resources.

Policies that promote financial and regulatory support of young entrepreneurs can positively impact the situation with unemployment and encourage more people to implement their ideas into practice. In general, the following advantages of such initiatives can be singled out:

  • The growth of the small business sector (UNCTAD 86);
  • Youth-led businesses can create new jobs for young people;
  • Allowances can help young entrepreneurs to stay competitive;
  • Youth entrepreneurship can positively change the labor market in disadvantaged areas.

However, this strategy has some disadvantages and involves certain unobvious risks. There is no doubt that more individuals will try to profit from their ideas if some regulatory barriers to starting a business are removed. At the same time, given that people aged 16-24 usually have no experience of being a business leader, the outcomes of increased entrepreneurial activity among youth present an open question. As for particular disadvantages, the following factors make the policy’s relevance to the discussed problem questionable:

  • Young entrepreneurs may fail to manage business operations successfully;
  • The policy does not guarantee equal opportunities for the representatives of different ethnicities;
  • To achieve success, young entrepreneurs can prefer to collaborate with experienced specialists, which limits the initiative’s impact on YU.


The approaches to addressing the problem of YU vary greatly. Both the adoption of apprenticeship systems and measures helping to encourage entrepreneurship activity among young people. This initiative may help create more job options for young citizens with different educational levels because they focus on the development of practical skills and aim to remove barriers to business. Increased entrepreneurship activity, in its turn, leads to the creation of new jobs, which can be important to young people who cannot find jobs in large companies due to high competition.

Despite the advantages of policies that support youth-led businesses, the first option seems to be a more suitable solution. Apprenticeship systems and programs can prepare young people to fulfill different roles and work in a team, which is critical to success in career development. In contrast, overreliance on policies to increase the number of youth-led businesses will not help to prepare a diverse workforce. Moreover, although such policies are targeted at young people, it is not valid to say that entrepreneurs in this age group hire only inexperienced employees, and it reduces such programs’ relevance to the chosen problem. Taking these disadvantages into consideration, it can be recommended to solve the problem of YU by propelling the idea of apprenticeship programs to the next level. In particular, it is critical to design new measures to prevent organizations from discriminating against racial and ethnic minority applicants. Therefore, to increase young people’s chances to find good jobs and develop skills that are in demand, it can be necessary to introduce changes to some policies that are already in use.

Works Cited

Kalleberg, Arne L. “Precarious Work and Young Workers in the United States.” Youth, Jobs, and the Future: Problems and Prospects, edited by Lynn S. Chancer et al., Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 35-52.

United States Department of Labor. 2019, Web.

Riphahn, Regina T., and Michael Zibrowius. “Apprenticeship, Vocational Training, and Early Labor Market Outcomes – Evidence from East and West Germany.” Education Economics, vol. 24, no. 1, 2016, pp. 33-57.

UNCTAD. Policy Guide on Youth Entrepreneurship. United Nations, 2015.

OECD, 2019, Web.

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