Chair of the G20’S global youth forum Holly Ransom. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer
ILO – The 24-year-old Australian chair of the G20 youth summit, Holly Ransom, said youth disengagement was a problem afflicting all G20 member countries and one that was, for the first time, threatening new generations with a worse quality of life than that of their parents.
She said 75 million people under 25 were unemployed across the globe, a problem that costs the European Union alone $150 billion each year.
In some countries where the rates were particularly high – Ms Ransom highlighted Spain at 60 per cent and South Africa at 25 per cent – many young people were being forced to abandon plans of having families.
“In every G20 country, youth unemployment is two to three times the adult unemployment rate,” she said.
“It’s an issue affecting a huge number of people around the world and we need the leaders to put their attention and energy into this weekend.”
Ms Ransom was a speaker at the G20 warm-up event, the Brisbane Global Cafe, a two-day event bringing together world experts in a variety of fields at City Hall on Wednesday and Thursday.
The law and economics graduate took part in a youth forum as part of the event and made it clear youth unemployment was the single biggest factor impacting global young people today.
“There are generations of people in Europe that aren’t having children because they don’t think they will be able to afford it,” she said.
“They don’t understand how they will earn enough income to keep themselves in food, let alone to put a kid in education, you name it and that’s extraordinary.”
She said Australia was not immune from the problem either, with the latest data showing unemployment rates in people under 25 up to 20 per cent.
“A new report this week showed that in Australia, this will likely be the first generation of young people who will be worse off than the generation before,” she said.
“They are really big social realities, there are huge challenges around poverty, disillusionment with political institutions and rising mental health challenges, which goes hand-in-hand with unemployment.”
She said it was hoped the world leaders would put addressing the issue at the forefront of their economic policies this weekend.
“Our big argument to world leaders is, you had this on your agenda but the game plan either seems to have gathered a bit of dust or hasn’t been effectual because unfortunately the needle’s only moved in the wrong direction,” she said.
“It’s not young people sensationalising this, its UN leaders saying we are at risk of a lost generation.”
The Brisbane Global Cafe continues on Wednesday evening and Thursday at City Hall.