Jobless rates among young people will get even worse globally as the spillover of the euro crisis spreads from advanced to emerging economies, according to an ILO paper titled "Global Employment Outlook: Bleak Labour Market Prospects for Youth".
"Ironically, only in developed economies are youth unemployment rates expected to fall in the coming years, but this follows the largest increase in youth unemployment among all regions since the start of the crisis," said Ekkehard Ernst, lead author of the paper and chief of the ILO's Employment Trends Unit.
The new forecasts show the youth unemployment rate in developed economies dropping gradually, from 17.5 percent this year to 15.6 percent in 2017. This is still far higher than the rate of 12.5 percent registered in 2007, before the crisis struck.
Much of this decline in the jobless rate is not due to improvements in the labour market, but rather to large numbers of young people dropping out of the labour force altogether due to discouragement. These discouraged youth are not counted among the unemployed.
The projected decline in youth unemployment in the developed economies region is not expected to be enough to pull the global rate downwards.
The paper says the global youth unemployment rate will reach 12.9 percent by 2017 - up 0.2 percentage points from forecasts for 2012.
The impact of the euro crisis is expected to expand well beyond Europe, affecting economies in East Asia and Latin America as exports to advanced economies have faltered.
In North Africa and the Middle East, youth unemployment rates are projected to remain above 25 percent over the next years and might even rise further in parts of these regions.
Youth unemployment rates are forecast to rise from 9.5 percent this year to 10.4 percent in 2017 in East Asia, with little change projected in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Supporting young workers has huge benefits.
Even in countries with early signs of a jobs recovery and where new vacancies are opening up, many unemployed youth still find it difficult to land a job. For example, a construction worker whose job fell victim to the housing bust might not have the skills needed in sectors that are hiring.
"This leads to discouragement and rising NEET rates (neither in employment, education or training) among young people," said Ernst.
"Schemes using employment guarantees and an emphasis on training could help get jobseekers off the street and into useful activities, providing a safeguard against further economic stress," he added.
According to the paper, such youth guarantees can come at very limited cost, less than half a percent of GDP among European countries.
"In times of constrained public finances, this may seem like a large additional burden, but it will be less than the additional costs that come from young unemployed people permanently losing touch with the labour market," the update said.
At its annual conference in June 2012, the ILO adopted a resolution calling for immediate, targeted, and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis.
The resolution provides a portfolio of tried and tested measures in five areas: macro-economic policies, employability, labour market policies, youth entrepreneurship, and rights. It underscores the need for balance, coherence, and complementarity across the policy measures.