German development policy
Combating youth unemployment and child labour
Many children and young people in developing countries are excluded from formal education or quit school early. Although others finish primary and secondary school, they have no access to vocational training or tertiary education and are thus not adequately prepared for the demands of the labour market. As a result, many young people are unable to find work in the formal sector – and the economies of these countries lack trained and qualified workers.
Unemployment and underemployment are one of the biggest problems in the countries with which Germany cooperates. Young people, above all girls, are particularly hard hit by these problems: the International Labour Organization (ILO) has calculated that in 2013 around 73 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were unemployed worldwide. This means that two out of every five unemployed people are younger than 24 years of age.
The high level of youth unemployment not only causes huge economic damage in the country concerned, the social costs are also enormous: young people who cannot find work have no prospects for the future. They are frustrated and feel that they are useless and excluded from society. There is considerable potential for conflict and violence in this situation.
Over the next few years the number of young people on the labour market will increase dramatically. Providing them with decent work and a living wage, so that their futures are not without prospects, is an important contribution towards securing peaceful co-existence in the world.
Germany applies an integrated approach in its efforts to boost youth employment. This approach essentially comprises three dimensions that are mutually dependent and mutually complementary:
- Promoting the private sector and creating productive decent jobs, including by means of efforts aimed at improving the legal enabling environment and access to finance for businesses, building competitive economic structures, and advising governments on economic policy topics such as industrial and competition policy.
- Increasing the employability of young people looking for work by means of improved vocational training and qualifications – especially for disadvantaged young people.
- Improving the coordination of supply and demand on the labour market by means of effective careers advice and guidance, job finding services and labour market information.
The development cooperation activities carried out by Germany are conceived in such a way as to ensure that human rights are observed and ensured. These rights include decent working conditions and a ban on child labour.
These efforts are complemented by the activities carried out by the BMZ in connection with social protection. For example, the ministry supports the development of microinsurance schemes for young people in the informal sector, and basic protection models specially for children and young people.
According to the latest estimates from the ILO, around 168 million children between the ages of five and 17 are still obliged to work, around 85 million of them under exploitative conditions that are often harmful to their health and dangerous. Only about one fifth of working children receive payment; the majority of child labour takes place in family-run businesses.
Germany is a key player in the efforts to fight exploitative and dangerous forms of child labour. The German government contributes about one million euros a year to support the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), which the International Labour Organization has been running since 1992.
Together with the private sector, the BMZ is also supporting the elaboration of voluntary codes of conduct, for example in the coffee, cocoa and textiles sectors. The commitments undertaken by private sector companies also include a voluntary ban on exploitative child labour.
Another important issue that Germany is seeking to address through development cooperation activities is the commercial exploitation of children for sex. Germany is doing all it can to protect children against the inhuman machinations of child traffickers and organised rings of pimps.
The sexual exploitation of children is only possible because the demand is there. The Federal Republic of Germany and other countries have passed extra-territorial laws. This means that perpetrators can also be prosecuted after they have returned home. Many countries have raised the age of consent to 18. Clients are thus committing an offence when they have sex with children. The BMZ is working with the tourism industry and the non-governmental organisation The Code to have a global code on combating the sexual abuse of children adopted.
- Issues: Economic development, growth and employment
- Issues: Vocational training
- Issues: Social protection
- Information available from the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the topic of child labour - external link, new window - Visit website
- Youth Employment Programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO) - external link, new window - Visit website
Developing markets, creating wealth, reducing poverty, taking responsibility – The private sector as a partner of development policy
BMZ Strategy Paper new window, PDF 265 KB, accessible 04/2011 | pdf | 265 KB | 15 P. | accessible
Young people in German development policy – a contribution to the implementation of the rights of children and youth
BMZ Strategy Paper new window, PDF 452 KB, accessible 10/2011 | pdf | 452 KB | 26 P. | accessible
Human Rights in Development Policy – The rights of children and youth
Leaflet new window, PDF 471 KB, accessible 08/2012 | pdf | 471 KB | 8 P. | accessible