Young Unemployed Are In A ‘Catch-22’

CNBC and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation pioneer public and private sector engagement to address the crisis at the inaugural Global Youth Employment Agenda

London, 7th December 2010: With unemployment for 18 - 24 year olds topping 16%, young people are ‘caught in a Catch 22’ situation making them twice or three times as probable to be unemployed as adults. This is mainly due to a lack of exposure to work experiences, mentors and contacts as young adults.

This was one of the main conclusions from the inaugural Global Youth Employment Agenda organized by CNBC and The Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

Global unemployment for people under 25 is currently at 81 million and counting according to The International Labour Organization (ILO), which believes the world, could be faced with ‘A Lost Generation.’ José Manuel Salazar, executive director at the ILO told delegates, “Another trap is the business cycle, [young people] are the first ones to be fired and last ones to be hired.” A mismatch between skills and the needs of companies in terms of workforce is one of the main reasons for the disparity. “There’s no magic bullet, but vocational training, apprenticeships are absolutely essential,” added Salazar.

John Studzinski, senior managing director at Blackstone told delegates that governments need to partner with companies to learn what type of skills are needed and then provide programs and incentives for training and re-training of those skills.

Blackstone’s Studzinski said Germany is a good role model for youth employment because it “fully embraces and understands the merits of the apprentice system.” “Siemens is one of the great enlightened companies when it comes to involving youth,” he added. Studzinski warned that if the problem is not solved, the young unemployed will potentially be “a drag on Europe indefinitely.”

The event, moderated by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, was attended by high-profile business and political leaders as well as representatives from select NGOs who discussed measures that governments and business need to take to create jobs; how education systems and business can be better aligned; and what needs to be done to promote entrepreneurial solutions to employment problems.

Attendees included Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group; Peter Löscher, President and CEO, Siemens AG; David Arkless, President Corporate & Government Affairs, Manpower; William Reese, President, International Youth Foundation; Benjamin Todd Jealous, President & CEO, NAACP; Ian Cheshire, Group CEO, Kingfisher Group; Tristan Wilkinson, director of public policy at Intel EMEA; Sir David Bell, Former Chairman of The Financial Times & Pearson, Inc. and Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Welfare Reform).

Partnering with Siemens, Manpower, Fiba Holdings, Bharti Enterprises, the International Youth Foundation and the NAAPC, the Global Youth Employment Agenda aims to drive the awareness of youth unemployment, involve the corporate sector in the conversation, and find solutions to the problem. To raise awareness of the issue globally, CNBC reported live from the two day event in London where Maria Bartiromo hosted her Closing Bell programme.

CNBC has produced a special reports page on CNBC.com which features videos, news analysis and guest blogs from the event and will air a special one hour programme with highlights from Global Youth Employment Agenda, on 17 December at 22.00 GMT.

As part of its on-going commitment to the issue, CNBC will also be hosting a televised debate on the topic at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2011.

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