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JA Worldwide report highlights innovative solutions required to reverse soaring levels of unemployment among youth populations around the world

Across the globe, today’s youth populations are experiencing one of the highest levels of unemployment in history. Nearly half of the world’s 1.2 billion young people between the ages 15-24 are currently unemployed or underemployed.  According to a new report published by JA Worldwide, funded by the Citi Foundation, substantive interventions over an extended period of time can effectively address climbing levels of youth unemployment.

The report, titled “Generation Jobless: The Challenge of Global Youth Unemployment,” offers an in-depth look at the causes and effects of global youth unemployment, highlights regional variations and perspectives, and offers promising solutions and tailored approaches to addressing the challenge.

The consequences of sustained youth unemployment impact economies and serve as forces behind social unrest.  The report cites economic costs for several regions including:

  • Middle East and North Africa: unemployed youth cost $40-50 billion annually
  • European Union: €153 billion (~$192 billion) in welfare and lost production annually
  • United States: $20 billion in lost earnings for young people over the next 10 years

“This problem did not arise overnight,” says Sean Rush, President and CEO of JA Worldwide. “It has been slowly but systematically growing over the past decade, with obvious economic and social impacts.  Amongst the causes are a great skills mismatch between employers and young job seekers and a lack of quality entrepreneurship education, as well as significant labor protections serving as barriers to productive work.”

JA programs are being deployed across 123 countries to address different challenges or variations of the same challenges, with a focus on unemployment.  With its partners, JA Worldwide delivers experiential education in work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to more than 10 million youth annually through 400,000 volunteers.  The report spotlights the customized programming and alumni experiences from each region, such as a group of university students in Egypt who used $1,000 to launch a recycling business that is currently valued at $400,000.

The interventions highlighted by the report call for collaboration between governments, employers, educational institutions and civil society organizations that must continue over an extended period of time to affect lasting change.   In addition, the solutions to this global challenge must be customized and targeted locally.  They include:

  • Boosting job creation and labor demand
  • Better preparing youth for the job market
  • Illuminating pathways to productive work
  • Improving current and long-term financial well-being
  • Fostering entrepreneurship


Urging a call to action, Rush states, “This report aims to ignite a conversation about the role we all need to play in global youth economic development.  We welcome the opportunity to partner with organizations and institutions around the world to tackle this critical global challenge.”

The full-length report is available for download here. For additional information about JA Worldwide, its education programs and how you can get involved, please visit


Editor’s Notes

About JA Worldwide (Junior Achievement)

JA Worldwide is one of the largest global NGOs dedicated to addressing fundamental social and economic challenges of young people by educating and empowering them to transform their future and own their economic success. Through the delivery of cutting-edge, experiential learning in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship, JA Worldwide effectively broadens the canvas of possibility for young people and enriches their ability to both engage in their own economic development, as well as contribute to the strength of their families, communities and economies. The 123-country JA Worldwide network is powered by more than 400,000 volunteers and mentors from all sectors of society, reaching over 10 million young people around the world. For more information, please visit us at

About Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress in communities around the world and focuses on initiatives that expand financial inclusion. We collaborate with best-in-class partners to create measurable economic improvements that strengthen low-income families and communities. Through a “More than Philanthropy” approach, Citi’s business resources and human capital enhance our philanthropic investments and impact. For more information, visit