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Youths with Low Educational Levels are Trapped in Low-productivity Jobs

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9 February 2010|Press Release

At a forum on social cohesion in Lima, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Antonio Prado, outlined the problems youths encounter in entering the labour market.

(9 February 2010) The lower the educational level of youths, the more difficult it is for them to access quality and highly-productive jobs, especially among young women, stated ECLAC's Deputy Executive Secretary, Antonio Prado, during the II Latin America and Caribbean - European Union Forum (LAC-EU) taking place in Lima, Peru.

The Forum is being held from February 8-10 under the theme "Promoting decent work for youths. New capabilities for new jobs", and participants include government ministers and other high ranking officials from a dozen countries of the region and Europe, as well as representatives of international organizations.

In his presentation "Challenges for youth employment and social cohesion in the regional economic and social context", Prado noted that in the region, while only 32.4% of young women with up to three years of schooling are employed, this percentage rises to 53% when they have complete elementary and high school education.

A similar trend can be observed between years of schooling and poverty levels, added Prado.

The low participation of youths in the labour market could be good sign if that meant they were in school instead, said Prado. However, among youths in the lowest quintile, almost 25% - particularly women -are neither economically active nor students. Among youths in the highest quintile, only 7% are in a similar situation.

The consequences of this low participation in the labour market are multiple, and range from low current and future incomes and prolonging inequality and the intergenerational transmission of poverty, to the misuse of public resources invested in education and social disintegration, stated Prado.

Under the assumption that the level of education conditions the future participation of youths in the labour market, ECLAC suggests investing in education and labour training. Among other things, governments can broaden preschool registration and coverage, extend school hours for elementary education and increase transfer programmes conditioned to high school attendance.

The panels at the Forum addressed issues such as preparing youths for the labour markets of the future; the impact of the crisis on employment opportunities for youths; education, innovation and technology for sustainable development and social inclusion; and youth employment policies and actions to promote it in Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union.

The conclusions and recommendations of the Forum will be delivered to the Heads of State and Government that will gather for the VI LAC-EU Summit to take place in Madrid on May 18 this year under the theme "Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion."


For more information, contact ECLAC's Information Services. Email:; telephones: (56-2) 210-2149.