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Responsible Business for the Future of Youth Employment in the Pacific

09.00 – 10.30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 2 June 2021

Click HERE to access the recordings of the RBHR Forum on YouTube

Organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)




The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a massive disruption of labour markets that has had disproportionate impacts on youth employment. Given that youth have relatively limited skills and experience, they face higher rates of unemployment than adults regardless of the sector and business cycle. Young people are also more likely than adults to work in less-secure, lower-wage, lower productivity employment, frequently with limited legal rights, social protection, and representation. As a result of the pandemic, slow economic growth hampers the ability of the economy to absorb growing numbers of labour force entrants, especially in formal sector jobs. Even before the pandemic, countries in the Pacific have serious shortcomings with regard to decent job opportunities and necessary skills for the labour market resulting in high and persistent youth unemployment. The lack of access to intermediation services such as quality career guidance, counselling and public employment services are also an important structural constraint for an efficient transition to the labour market. Many governments are actively engaged in policies to create productive employment opportunities and to help youth attain the skills they need to do well in work and in life, as well as to find suitable employment. 


Increasingly, it has come to be recognized that private sector and employers have a vital critical role to play in the governance structure of youth employment programs—that is, designing, planning and implementing employment and skills development interventions that range from an apprenticeship, internships, skills training, and employment services to entrepreneurship and self-employment promotion. A good example in several countries in Asia-Pacific, the ILO has helped to set up business-led employment promotion network for persons with disabilities, including youth (e.g. Indonesia) . There are several reasons identified why business, along with the government and workers’ organizations, has a leading role in this. Business-led response for youth can provide decent work and productive employment. They can inject resources and make youth-related interventions more responsive to the needs of the private sector and economic development. For example, the effectiveness of skills development and employment services have suffered by being heavily driven by the supply side, with services developed without substantial input from businesses. Supplied information from businesses helps policymakers to understand the concurrent structural transformation and technological change across different sectors. It captures the transition of jobs from low-productivity to high-productivity economic activities with a different set of requirements for employment. It also allows governments to guide skills development to be more responsive to the business changing needs. And to enable curriculum provision to be adjusted to meet labour market needs. Career guidance and cost-effective skills development program require both understanding of and involvement with local businesses and industries. A good example on that is the Global Apprenticeships Network (GAN), which it brings CEO-level coalition of businesses to accelerate the acquisition of skills of the workforce and build robust talents that can match the pace of change in the world of work. The role of the private sector is acknowledged in the guiding principles of the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth3, highlighting the need for complementarity and coherence between public policies and private sector initiatives.

1 See ILO: Tackling youth unemployment in Asia and Pacific report

See: https://www.gan-global.org/

See: https://www.decentjobsforyouth.org/

Session Description

The session will discuss how youth-related interventions for promoting productive employment are most successful when they are demand-driven, designed and implemented with the participation and ownership of the private sector. The discussion will look closely on the critical role the private sector can play in promoting youth employment, reflecting on; building better skilled, more productive and employable, and more resilient workforce, creating quality jobs and reputational or corporate social responsibility (CSR) toward youth. The session will also discuss the challenges and opportunities for private sector responsibility in promoting youth employment, reflecting on how the absence of a clear and effective partnership with the private sector could create far more challenges to the labour market.

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to:


  • Commence a dialogue, supported by the UN, to chart a new vision in the Pacific in shaping business-led response for the promotion of youth employment;

  • Explore key principles of how the private sector’s role can be rooted in the design and implementation of youth employment interventions, and how it can be conceptually drawn in the theory of change that establishes clear development results for youth;

  • Aim to discuss how the responsible private sector can contribute to enable high rate of readiness of youth for the future of work.




Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • What motivates businesses to collaborate with Government and other actors in the promotion of youth employment in the Pacific Island Countries?

  • How to shape an enabling environment for the private sector to invest and contribute more in the design and implementation of youth employment interventions?

  • What are the challenges of the private sector in promoting youth employment in the Pacific Island Countries?

  • What opportunities and challenges has COVID introduced in the Pacific to youth employment?

  • What role can youth leaders and organizations play in raising awareness around the issues of youth employment and in supporting collaboration and coordination among different actors?

For questions, please contact unrbhrforum@undp.org