Young people, women and persons with disabilities around the world who face a severely lacklustre job market now have two new powerful allies in helping them making a successful transition from school to the world of work: In a ceremony at the United Nations, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 8 July 2014 signed a new agreement consolidating existing joint work by the two agencies in key areas such as technical and vocational training and education (TVET), enhancing youth employment opportunities, eliminating child labour and contributing to poverty eradication.

“Our collaboration is an essential part of the UN’s on-going efforts to achieve international development goals and shows what is possible as the UN discusses the Post-2015 development agenda. By providing educational and skills support, entrepreneurship training and facilitating gender-equality in career development we are ultimately helping people live better lives,” stated Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

In line with the call by the UN General Assembly for closer collaboration within the UN system, the agreement recognizes the complementary roles of the two agencies and commits them to a number of joint initiatives. These initiatives include collaboration on achieving internationally agreed development goals, especially for persons with disabilities, ensuring that education and training systems and policies promote social inclusion, devise youth employment and entrepreneurship programmes, and the strengthening of gender-responsive policies at work.

The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, said that “our core mandate of creating opportunities for decent work speaks directly to the challenges of today’s youth in having the right skills for quality jobs. Our partnership with UNESCO, given their leadership in intercultural dialogue through education, adds a tremendously important component that will benefit many young people as they search for a good job.”

The partnership will also focus on the development and expansion of national social protection floors in line with the ILO’s recent Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) to promote policies that ensure income security and access to essential social services, in particular universal access to education.

The ILO and UNESCO will also support international, regional and national efforts to eliminate the social exclusion of persons with disabilities, by promoting access to information and knowledge, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

There is a long history of collaboration between the ILO and UNESCO which includes the 1966 Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, the 1997 Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and the 1980 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist.