As we think about the challenges we will face in 2013, unemployment remains at the top of the agenda. As a 26-year-old, I keep asking myself whether we are a scarred generation or if society will be able to create the 600 million productive jobs needed over the next decade.
According to the ILO, young people are three times as likely as adults to be unemployed and more than 75 million young people worldwide are currently looking for a job. Yet, the young are not the only ones affected by the deteriorating labour markets. Millions of adults have also lost their jobs as a result of the crisis. Indeed, statistics reveal that global unemployment soared to about 200 million in 2012.
From the US to Pakistan, people have been gathering in masses to protest against unemployment. The rising sense of despair around the globe is undisputable. Consider the case of Spain, which has an official unemployment rate of 26.2% and a youth unemployment figure of 55.9%. Commentators sadly suggest that Europe’s youth is a generation that can expect to grow poorer than their parents.
Yet, while unemployment figures mount, industries ranging from manufacturing to logistics and supply chains continue to observe a shortage of skilled workers. Indeed, a study of over 300 executives by Transport Intelligence revealed that 64% of executives surveyed experienced difficulty in recruiting suitable employees.
As we struggle to create additional jobs over the next decade to simply stabilize unemployment, how can we bridge this mismatch? It is critical for society to consider the roots of the problem and take action. Are we unemployed or unemployable? In other words, are there no jobs or do we not have the skills and qualifications needed to get jobs?
An either/or question is clearly too simplistic: the answer is a combination of both.
Join us for the Unemployed or Unemployable debate at the Open Forum 2013 in Davos on 23 January, in which panellists including Kris Gopalakrishnan, Sharan Burrow, Jamie McAuliffe, Frederik Reinfeldt, Guy Ryder and Nafez Dakkak will consider how to create jobs to ensure sustainable growth and preserve social cohesion.
Author: Tiffany Misrahi is Senior Associate, Global Agenda Councils, at the World Economic Forum.
Image: Job seekers stand in a line in New York City. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson