Not what decent work looks like.
Photo: ILO/M. Crozet


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Today, the concept of decent work, introduced at the 87th International Labour Conference in 1999, is central to several international policy instruments and agendas. Our authors present the concept and give various examples of how it can be tailored to the needs of rural youth.

Productive employment plays a central role in the economic and social integration of youth. However, youth continue to face difficult access to labour markets and good working conditions. Recent analysis (ILO, 2017) shows that young people continue to be overrepresented among the unemployed. Two out of five economically active youth around the world are unemployed, or work, but live in poverty. The higher incidence of working poverty among youth relates to the fact that youth are more likely to work in the informal economy. Globally, more than three-quarters of working youth are in informal jobs. Agriculture is still a major employer and will remain important in the future, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Yet, rural areas are progressively losing a vital part of their workforce as young people migrate to cities or move abroad in search of better economic opportunities.

Against this background, new, context-specific solutions must be devised to provide decent work opportunities for all young persons, also considering the challenges and opportunities linked to a rapidly evolving world of work.

The meaning of decent work, and how to measure it

The International Labour Organization (ILO) considers that the promotion of decent work, grounded in tripartite social dialogue and broad-based consultations among national stakeholders, can significantly contribute to addressing the global employment challenge and to achieving poverty reduction and sustainable development goals.

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