Europe Economy

Youth unemployment 'time bomb' ticking in Europe: ILO

Reporting by Steve Sedgwick, written by Holly Ellyatt
We need to get demand back into the economy: ILO

Europe faces a "demographic time bomb" as its population ages and a record amount of young people remain out of work, the director general of the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned on Thursday.

Guy Ryder told CNBC on the sidelines of the G20 summit that leaders weren't doing enough to tackle the problem.

"If we don't get these young people into work it's a demographic time bomb, so there's a bit of schizophrenia around these issues and the only way out of that schizophrenia is to find ways to get young people into work," Ryder said. "Youth unemployment is double, triple the overall levels and we need to find those jobs quickly for all sorts of reasons."

(Read more: Weak eurozone jobs picture overshadows bright spots)

He said it was important that the pressing issue of unemployment was not "swept away" by debates over Syria at the meeting as rising tensions rise in the Middle East looked set to dominate this year's agenda.

"We need to keep our eyes firmly on the jobs issue…We have to remember that the leaders gathering here are presiding over countries where there are 93 million people without jobs and those numbers are going up despite the feeling that we're emerging from the worst of the crisis."

(Read more: 'Alarming' unemployment could get worse: ILO)

His comments come as macro-economic data improves in Europe while unemployment remains at record highs. In July, the jobless rate in the euro zone remained at 12.1 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

Among the under-25s, the rate increased to 24 percent from 23.9 percent in June, and in Spain and Greece, youth unemployment is above 50 percent.

(Read more: Whose Job Is It to Tackle Youth Unemployment?)

Ryder said that G20 leaders needed to "walk the walk as well as talk the talk" by directing all areas of government policy towards tackling unemployment.

"At the ILO, we think the one thing that has to be focused on is getting demand into the global economy. The fact of the matter is we don't have enough demand -- be it from public or private sources -- to actually employ the people that need jobs."

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