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G20 urged to mitigate unemployment

This article was written by a colleague, Dyah Ayunico Ramadhani, after our participation in Y20 Summit 2014 in Sydney, Australia, and originally appeared in The Jakarta Post, July 23, 2014

Around 120 youths from G20 member countries gathered in Sydney on July 12–15 for the Youth 20 (Y20) Summit to formulate recommendations on how to solve global economic challenges, most importantly those impacting the youth. Indonesia was represented by five youth from different backgrounds.

Currently there are more that 651 million unemployed youths worldwide. Moreover, in each G20 member country, the youth unemployment rate is double or triple the unemployment rate of adults.

Acknowledging the substantial youth population and its immense role in the economy, Y20 has been established as an official G20 platform to ensure there are formal channels for youths to be heard and accommodated.

The youth not only face regulatory and education-related challenges when it comes to gaining decent employment within their country but also in attempts at enjoying numerous social and economic opportunities globally.

Amusingly, the process of formulating the set of recommendations was not only carried out during the four-day conference but also through more than three months of discussion and negotiations facilitated through an online platform. Every delegate from the G20 countries proposed their own country’s priorities and deliberated with each other to reach a consensus on the set of recommendations that would be best put forward to the G20 country leaders.

The approach taken was through three-policy frameworks: growth and job creation, global citizenship and mobility and sustainable development.

If we look at the Indonesian context, youth unemployment is mostly caused by the skill gap between skills required by the market and those possessed by the youth. On the other hand, female participation in the workforce is still way behind that of men, be it in numbers or even in how much they earn.

Moreover, if we look at specific sectors, for example, agricultural labor — which still contributes to a large proportion of our gross domestic product (GDP) — it is currently made up of workers aged an average of 40 years old. Whereas, to reach the target of 2 percent economic growth set by the G20 countries, active participation of all members of society in all strategic industries is required.

Consequently, the Indonesian delegation has consistently been successful in pushing through the agenda of up-skilling youth to meet market demands, female empowerment and prioritizing investment in rural areas and agriculture industries as priority issues in the Y20 Communiqué. The final Y20 Communiqué has also been presented to the treasurer of the Australian government, Joe Hockey, recently after the Summit concluded.

One thing undoubtedly conveyed by all delegations is that the Y20 2014 Communiqué is just the start of our commitment to fighting for the cause in each of our countries so that in the G20 Leader Meeting on Nov. 15-16, youth issues can be a priority action item.

Most importantly, how can each of us get involved? There are two crucial matters that should be of concern in the next three months before the meeting in Brisbane takes place.

One is mainstream youth-related issues with key stakeholders involved in the G20, namely the Business 20 (B20), Civil Society 20 (C20), and also Labor 20 (L20).

Secondly, it is imperative to engage and urge relevant government institutions, be it local government, central government or even legislators, to consider the Y20 recommendations during the planning of their youth-related programs, particularly for the five-year agenda of the incoming government.

We need to all believe that youth do not only play a great role in the future of our economy but also as strategic actors that need to be involved in shaping the policy of our current economy.

Dyah Ayunico Ramadhani

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