Providing youth with skills, training and employment opportunities through ICT Initiatives

Yigitcanlar, Tan & Baum, Scott (2009) Providing youth with skills, training and employment opportunities through ICT Initiatives. In Public-Private Partnerships and ICTs. ICFAI University Press.

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Youth population is increasing explosively particularly in developing countries as a result of rapid urbanization. This increase is bringing large number of social and economic problems. For instance the impacts of job and training availability, and the physical, social and cultural quality of urban environment on young people are enormous, and affect their health, lifestyles, and well-being (Gleeson and Sipe 2006). Besides this, globalization and technological developments are affecting youth in urban areas in all parts of the world, both positively and negatively (Robertson 1995).

The rapidly advancing information and communications technologies (ICTs) helps in addressing social and economic problems caused by the rapid growth of urban youth populations in developing countries. ICTs offer opportunities to young people for learning, skill development and employment. But there are downsides: young people in many developing countries lack of having broad access to these new technologies, they are vulnerable to global market changes, and ICTs link them into global cultures which promote consumer goods, potentially eroding local cultures and community values (Manacorda and Petrongolo 1999). However we believe that the positives outweigh such negatives.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world’s young population number more than they ever have. There are over a billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, which 85 per cent of them live in developing countries and mainly in urban environments. Many of these young people are in the process of making, or have already made, the transition from school to work. During the last two decades all around the world, these young people, as new workers, have faced a number of challenges associated with globalization and technological advances on labour markets (United Nations 2004). The continuous decrease in the manufacturing employment is made many of the young people facing three options: getting jobs in the informal economy with insecurity and poor wages and working conditions, or getting jobs in the low-tier service industries, or developing their vocational skills to benefit from new opportunities in the professional and advanced technical/knowledge sectors. Moreover in developing countries a large portion of young people are not even lucky enough to choose among any of these options, and consequently facing long-term unemployment, which makes them highly vulnerable.

The United Nations’ World Youth Employment report (2004) indicates that in almost all countries, females tend to be far more vulnerable than males in terms of long-term unemployment, and young people who have advanced qualifications are far less likely to experience long-term unemployment than others. In the limited opportunities of the formal labour market, those with limited vocational skills resort to forced entrepreneurship and selfemployment in the informal economy, often working for low pay under hazardous conditions, with only few prospects for the future (United Nations 2005a).

The International Labour Organization’s research (2004) revealed that the labour force participation rates for young people decreased by almost four per cent (which is equivalent of 88 million young people) between 1993 and 2003. This is largely as a result of the increased number of young people attending school, high overall unemployment rates, and the fact that some young people gave up any hope of finding work and dropped out of the labour market. At the regional level, youth unemployment was highest in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) (25.6%) and sub-Saharan Africa (21%) and lowest in East Asia (7%) and the industrialized economies(13.4%) (International Labour Organization 2004). The youth in economically disadvantaged regions (e.g. the MENA region) face many challenges in education and training that delivers them the right set of skills and knowledge demanded by the labour market. As a consequence, the transition from school to work is mostly unsuccessful and young population end up either unemployed or underemployed in the informal sectors (United Nations 2005b).

Unemployment and lack of economic prospects of the urban youth are pushing many of them into criminal acts, excessive alcohol use, substance addiction, and also in many cases resulting in processes of social or political violence (Fernandez-Maldonado 2004; United Nations 2005a). Long-term unemployment leads young people in a process of marginalisation and social exclusion (United Nations 2004). The sustained high rates of long-term youth unemployment have a number of negative effects on societies. First, it results in countries failing to take advantage of the human resources to increase their productive potential, at a time of transition to a globalized world that inexorably demands such leaps in productive capacity. Second, it reinforces the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Third, owing to the discrepancy between more education and exposure to the mass media and fewer employment opportunities, it may encourage the spread of disruptive behaviours, recourse to illegal alternatives for generating income and the loss of basic societal values, all of which erode public safety and social capital.

Fourth, it may trigger violent and intractable political conflicts. And lastly, it may exacerbate intergenerational conflicts when young people perceive a lack of opportunity and meritocracy in a system that favours adults who have less formal education and training but more wealth, power and job stability (Hopenhayn 2002). To assist in addressing youth’s skill training and employment problems this paper scrutinises useful international practices, policies, initiatives and programs targeting youth skill training, particularly in ICTs. The MENA national governments and local authorities could consider implementing similar initiative and strategies to address some of the youth employment issues. The broader aim of this paper is to investigate the successful practice and strategies for the information and communication related income generation opportunities for young people to: promote youth entrepreneurship; promote public-private partnerships; target vulnerable groups of young people; narrow digital divide; and put young people in charge.

The rest of this paper is organised in five parts. First, the paper provides an overview of the literature on the knowledge economy, skill, education and training issues. Secondly, it reviews the role of ICTs for vocational skill development and employability. Thirdly, it discusses the issues surrounding the development of the digital divide. Fourthly, the paper underlines types and the importance of developing ICT initiatives targeting young people, and reviews some of the successful policy implementations on ICT-based initiatives from both developed and developing countries that offer opportunities to young people for learning, skill development and employment. Then the paper concludes by providing useful generalised recommendations for the MENA region countries and cities in: advocating possible opportunities for ICT generated employment for young people; and discussing how ICT policies could be modified and adopted to meet young people’s needs.

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ID Code: 30002
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies , ICT, Long-term Youth Unemployment, Policy Implementation, Skill Training
ISBN: 978813146501
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Urban Analysis and Development (120507)
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Please consult the authors.
Deposited On: 27 Jan 2010 03:12
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2015 23:23

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