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Global jobs crisis threatens stability, UN warns

Global jobs crisis threatens stability, UN labour agency chief warns leaders in Davos

Citing a growing employment crisis that threatens democracies around the globe, the head of the United Nations labour agency urged leaders gathering today at the World Economic Forum to act and counter a crisis that has left 192 million people without jobs.

In a statement issued today in the Swiss city, Juan Somavia, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), hailed the Forum for placing the issue on its agenda and called on world leaders to take concrete steps to tackle a problem that he said threatens to create a more fragmented, protectionist and confrontational world.

“The global jobs crisis is one of the biggest security risks we face today, “ said Mr. Somavia, a former Chilean ambassador to the UN who began his second five-year term as ILO Director-General in March 2003. “It is time to revisit the commitments made by the global community to promote social inclusion and jobs as the basis of poverty reduction, and respect for fundamental principles and rights at work.”

Among the steps that would help the tens of millions of unemployed people, Mr. Somavia advocated a shift in economic and social policies to put decent work at the centre of national and international development efforts and government regulatory environments that would encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in job creation.

The expansion of training and education, especially for young people, is another crucial step. “If we can reduce the youth unemployment rate by just half, we will add at least $2.2 trillion to the global economy,” said Mr. Somavia, noting that the ILO estimates that young people age 15 to 24 make up about half – or 86 million – of the world’s unemployed.

He also urged world leaders to promote stronger international governance that would mesh the efforts of governments, businesses, trade unions and other civil society stakeholders to reduce poverty and create jobs.

Despite a robust growth of 4.3 per cent in 2005, the world economy did not deliver the 40 million jobs needed annually over the next decade for people entering the workforce, he added.

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