OECD work on Youth


"Giving young people the skills and tools to find a job is not only good for their own prospects and self-esteem, it is also good for economic growth, social cohesion and widespread well-being. That’s why investing in youth must be a policy priority the world over."

OECD Secretary-General


YOUTH AND COVID-19: Response, Recovery and Resilience

The COVID-19 global health emergency and its economic and social impacts have disrupted nearly all aspects of life for all groups in society. People of different ages, however, are experiencing its effects in different ways.

For young people, and especially for vulnerable youth, the COVID-19 crisis poses considerable risks in the fields of education, employment, mental health and disposable income. Moreover, while youth and future generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the crisis, their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic and equity considerations.

To avoid exacerbating intergenerational inequalities and to involve young people in building societal resilience, governments need to anticipate the impact of mitigation and recovery measures across different age groups, by applying effective governance mechanisms.

Based on survey findings from 90 youth organisations from 48 countries, this policy brief outlines practical measures governments can take to design inclusive and fair recovery measures that leave no one behind.

Read the policy response Youth and COVID-19: Response, Recovery and Resilience

The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.




More must be done to provide youth with the skills and help they need to get a better start in the labour market and progress in their career. Sharp increases in youth unemployment and underemployment have built upon long-standing structural obstacles that prevent many youth in both OECD countries and emerging economies from making a successful transition from school to work. 

Key elements of the OECD Action Plan for Youth

  • Tackle the current youth unemployment crisis
  • Tackle weak aggregate demand and boost job creation
  • Provide adequate income support to unemployed youth until labour market conditions improve but subject to strict mutual obligations
  • Maintain, and where possible expand, cost-effective active labour market measures
  • Tackle demand-side barriers to the employment of low-skilled youth
  • Encourage employers to continue or expand quality apprenticeship and internship programme
  • Strengthen the long-term employment prospects of youth
  • Strengthen the education system and prepare all young people for the world of work
  • Strengthen the role and effectiveness of Vocational Education and Training
  • Assist the transition to the world of work
  • Reshape labour market policy and institutions to facilitate access to employment and tackle social exclusion

Read more about The OECD Action Plan for Youth - Giving Youth a Better Start



Fostering youth employability re-quires a comprehensive and forward-looking skill strategy; however efforts to achieve a better match between the skills youth acquire at school and those needed in the labour market may not per se be sufficient to improve labour market prospects for all youth.

Read The OECD Skills Strategy



40% of youth indicate an interest in self-employment and governments have a substantial number of programmes in place to help them start businesses. And while youth entrepreneurship is unlikely to be a panacea for solving the youth unemployment problem, it can be a part of the response.

To maximise effectiveness and efficiency, policy should target resources on young people with the best chance of success, provide sufficient support to allow them to start businesses outside of low entry barrier but high competition sectors, and provide integrated packages of complementary support rather than one-shot instruments.

Read a Policy brief on Youth Entrepreneurship



About 40 million young people in OECD countries, equivalent to 15% of youth aged 15 to 29, are not in education, employment or training, so-called NEETs. Two-thirds of them are not even looking for work. While up to 40% of all youth experience a period of inactivity or unemployment over a four year period, for half of them this period will last a year or more and may lead to discouragement and exclusion.

Almost 1 in 10 jobs held by workers under 30 were destroyed during the crisis. In Spain, Greece and Ireland, the number of employed youth halved between 2007 and 2014. Across the OECD, despite the recovery, the youth employment rate has stagnated since 2010 and today is still below pre-crisis levels.

The high number of NEETs also represents a major economic cost, estimated at between USD 360 billion and USD 605 billion, equivalent to between 0.9% and 1.5% of OECD GDP.




Youth Aspirations and the Reality of Jobs in Developing Countries: Mind the Gap

Evidence-based Policy Making for Youth Well-being: A Toolkit

Unlocking the Potential of Youth Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries

OECD Skills Outlook  

Society at a Glance: Spotlight on Youth  

Youth in the MENA Region - How to Bring Them In  

Off to a good start? Jobs for Youth  

OECD Action Plan for Youth  

OECD Skills Strategy  

Education at a Glance 

OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training 

Equal Opportunities? The Labour Market Integration of the Children of Immigrants 

Untapped Skills - Realising the Potential of Immigrant Students  

Same Same but Different: School-to-work Transitions in Emerging and Advanced Economies  

NEET Youth in the Aftermath of the Crisis: Challenges and Policies 

Financial Education for Youth: The Role of Schools 

OECD Investing in Youth series
Australia l Brazil l FinlandJapan l KoreaLatvia l Lithuania l Norway l PeruSwedenTunisia

OECD Youth Well-being Policy Reviews
Cambodia l Côte d’Ivoire (in French)
El Salvador (in Spanish) l Malawi l Peru
(in Spanish) l Togo (in French) l Viet Nam



OECD work on employment

OECD work on skills

OECD work on education

OECD work on financial education in schools  

OECD work on youth inclusion in the MENA region  

EU-OECD Youth Inclusion Project 

Local Strategies for Youth Employment 



Financial literacy is a core life skill for participating in modern society. Children are growing up in an increasingly complex world where they will eventually need to take charge of their own financial future.

National surveys show that young adults have amongst the lowest levels of financial literacy. This is reflected by their general inability to choose the right financial products and often a lack of interest in undertaking sound financial planning. Even from an early age, children need to develop the skills to help choose between different career and education options and manage any discretionary funds they may have, whether from allowances or part time jobs. 

Read about our work on Financial education in schools



Results have shown that in 17 out of 30 OECD countries, young people express less trust in governments than the 50+ generation. While youth participation through the official channels appear to be on the decline, young people often lead initiatives to address the global challenges of our times, including climate change and raising inequalities. These challenges have raised questions about inter-generational justice and the future young people will be faced with.

How can governments and public administrations deliver better policies and services for young people and acknowledge new forms of youth participation?

The OECD identifies five public governance pillars for policy makers to act upon youth’s concerns:

  1. Whole-of-government approach to youth policy
  2. Institutional capacities and coordination
  3. Youth mainstreaming
  4. Youth engagement in public life and representation in state institutions
  5. Legal frameworks and age restrictions

Read about our work on Youth engagement and empowerment


Do young people feel ready for the future of work? WorldSkills and the OECD have joined forces to better understand the attitudes of young people when it comes to future technologies, their perceptions about how technological change will impact their work opportunities, and whether they feel if they are getting enough support from schools to prepare them for the future.  

Find out more here


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