Being young in today’s labour market is not easy as this population sector is three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, as revealed in the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report prepared by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) , the specialised UN agency, that states that there are almost 73 million young people worldwide looking for work and that are unable to find it.

According to the director of the Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Spain, Joaquín Nieto, youth unemployment refers to that situation in which young people are out of work, i.e. they are unable to find work for even one hour in any economic activity, despite being available for work and actively looking for employment. However, is finding a job the cure? Many young people complain that what the labour market has to offer is not employment but subemployment. “Visible subemployment refers to persons who are employees or self-employed, working involuntarily fewer hours than are possible for the activity being carried out and who are looking or would be available to extend their workday”, Nieto explains.

Informal employment among young people remains widespread and changing to a decent job is slow and difficult, which inevitably affects their life development.  According to the latest study ‘Youth and emancipation in Spain’ prepared by the Foundation for Help Against Drug Addiction (FAD) and Caja Madrid, young people spend an average of 42 percent of their salary on house rentals. An example of this reality is Sandra Fernández who, after leaving home at the age of 20 thanks to getting a job in another city, on returning to her city of birth has had to return to the family home despite having a job. “I dedicated more than 50 percent of my earnings to rent and pay for a flat but when I returned to Santander, the pay was so low that I was unable to live independently because the rent and costs of a flat rose to 60 percent of my wages. I had no choice but to return to my parents’ house”, she explains. Now, she share her life and expenses with her partner. “I think it’s the only I can become independent. If your partner is lucky enough to have a job -even as precarious as mine- you can consider renting but we don’t even talk about buying”, she laments.

In Europe, an increasing proportion of young employed people have ‘atypical’ jobs, including temporary and part-time jobs, and the data suggest that a substantial proportion of these young people do not work in these conditions voluntarily or by choice. “To the extent that younger employees have more skills than those required for the position held, society is wasting their valuable potential and missing the chance to improve economic productivity, which would be possible if these young people occupied jobs that matched their skills. This mismatch means that the solutions to the youth employment crisis are harder to find and slower to implement” says the director of the ILO office in Spain.

The ILO has a Youth Employment Programme that provides assistance to countries to develop a coherent and coordinated youth employment action plan; for this purpose it employs an international network of experts in the ILO technical departments at the headquarters in Geneva and more than 60 offices worldwide. It is based on a comprehensive approach that combines macroeconomic policies and specific measures to address the demand and supply of labour and the quantity and quality of employment

In addition, it has launched a world platform, ‘Decent Work for Youth– which offers information on users’ rights and on sharing good practices. In the FAQ section, the experts mainly provide advice for young people regarding their rights. “Most of the applications we receive are based on better understanding what is and what constitutes decent work. Many users are interested in the definition of decent work, often based on their own experiences in the labour market; i.e. they want to know whether their working conditions are normal. They want to know if they are being treated fairly, if their contract complies with the rules or whether they are being paid enough”, say the officials in Geneva.