Report: Youth Employment Issues in APO Economies Workshop, August 2-6, 2015, Iran

Group Photo of participants

Group Photo of participants

The project aims to bring together APO member countries and to bring to fore the discussion on youth employment issues and its challenges for youth productivity. It includes the highlights of key national policy measures adopted by member economies to address employment concerns. The resource persons coming from Japan (JICA) and an academic institution of Singapore (SIM University) were presented to serve as take off points in discussing common issues on, among others, insufficient formal-sector jobs to absorb the growing number of young job seekers in the Region, and increasing vulnerability of young workers which would result to negative impact on the regional economic growth and productivity.

The workshop was organized by the Asian Productivity Organization and implemented by the National Iranian Productivity Organization.


The Republic of the Philippines through the Department of Labor and Employment and the Technical Education and Skills and Development Authority sent representatives to learn from the best practices from other countries and to contribute to the generation and dissemination of new knowledge and insights from its own experience and from among member states.

Skills gap, or the mismatch between labor demand and supply is seen as among the primary reasons for the high unemployment in the country. OJT experience is also seemingly hampered by the unwillingness of some partner agencies from both public and private institutions in providing skills training to better prepare their would be workers.


The workshop was attended by 22 participants coming from 12 countries, namely, Cambodia, Fiji, Iran, India (6), Malaysia (2), Mongolia (2), Pakistan, Philippines (2), Sri Lanka, Thailand (2), and Vietnam (2).

The Philippines was represented by two executives from the government, the regional and provincial directors of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE Region 6) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA Region 3), respectively.

There were 10 Iranian observers coming from the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Institute of Scientific Applied Higher Education and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance.


The five-day workshop divided into four sessions, namely:

1. Two major plenary lecture-presentations by two resource persons on a) status, issues and concerns confronting youth employment; and b) addressing/initiatives on youth employment issues using Japanese and Singaporean models;
2. Country presentations;
3. Group work/workshop on the future direction for youth productivity study and recommendations to governments and international organizations;
4. Group presentations;

The presentation of the two resource persons on the following:

Dr. Akira Murata, Research Fellow
JICA Research Institute
– Youth employment and challenges facing the youth;
– Initiatives for Youth employment issues- an approach of Japanese of Government Policies;

Mr. Wong Tuck Wah, Associate Faculty
SIM University Singapore
– Tackling Youth Employment Challenges through Government Policies and National Programs;
– Addressing Youth Challenges- a Case of Singapore;

Country presentations showed similar or almost the same issues on high unemployment of youth ages 15-24, to wit:

1. Lack of competency of the participants due to no formal training, insufficient knowledge and skills, and skills mismatch;
2. Expectation of high salary-upon knowing the low salary offer would opt to loo for other local or overseas;
3. Lack of years of experience-first time job seekers of fresh graduates;
4. Lack of applicants for the vacancy post- hard to fill jobs with high demands but the applicants cannot meet the criteria;

A study tour of Iran Small Industrial Parks Organization was also conducted on the 3rd day.


The workshop was able to answer the following major questions:

1. What is the status of youth employment in APO economies and of the world;
2. What are the major issues confronting youth productivity;
3. What are the different initiatives and approaches adopted among APO countries to address youth unemployment and productivity issues/concerns; and
4. What are the differences and similarities among APO countries relative to youth employment concerns.

In the lectures of resource persons and country paper presentations, we learned that:

1. Youth age classification/categories differ across countries but within 15 to 35 years old;
2. Youth comprised 17% of world’s population;
3. There are 1.2 billion (15-24 years old) youth among world population;
4. 87% of the youth live in developing countries (7.1 billion);
5. Comprised 40% of world’s unemployed;
6. Global adult and youth unemployment is 4.5% and 12.6%, respectively;
7. Youth has 3x higher risk of being unemployed than adult;
8. Of the youth unemployed 9.8% are in South Asia, 9% in East Asia, 13.5% in Southeast Asia Pacific, 17.4% in North America, 26.5% in the Middle East and 27.9% in North Africa;
9. Of the 357.7 million youth- NEET (not in employment, education and training) 341 million are in developing countries;

The main determinants of fluctuations in youth unemployment are the following:

1. Aggregate demand;
2. Youth wages; and
3. Size of youth labor force;

With the given scenario, the workshop suggested that there is a need for APO economies to adopt the following:

1. Employment and economic policies to increase aggregate demand and increase access to finance;
2. Education and training to ease the school-to-work transition;
3. Labor market policies to target employment of disadvantaged youth;
4. Entrepreneurship and self-employment to assist potential young entrepreneurs; and
5. Labor rights that are based on international labor standards to ensure that young people receive equal treatment.


Unemployment among APO countries is similar except Singapore and Thailand the latter which is less than 1% Singapore is unique in a sense that it is a small country with centralized governance, strong political and institutional will to keep employment trends high. Thailand is a miracle.

In the group work/workshop, the members agreed that there are at least four factors that influence improvement in the employment prospects of youth:

1. Capability of the economy to generate investment;
2. Availability and accessibility of reliable Labor Market Information (LMI);
3. Quality of human resources; and
4. Good governance;

Human capital building must be enhanced to make the youth more competitive. In the Philippine setting K-12 is one good direction towards this end. Training of the youth should be made excellent for the youth to be able to acquire appropriate skills and experiences that will make them more employable.

Employment generation is a function of investment. The economy must be able to attract substantial investments in order to generate enough jobs for the community.

Free flow and accessibility of labor market information; particularly on labor supply and demand is also an important factor to aid businesses and workers;

Good governance especially on ethical and moral leadership development is one area recognized to have a great impact on development which has bearing on employment generation;

In the Philippines, it appears that policies and government programs which aimed at addressing youth employment are already in place. What is needed, however, is a more convergent and coherent implementation of programs;


For Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE):

1. National Summit among leaders of the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Board of Investments (BOI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Higher Education Institutes (HEIs), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and various workers and employers groups to review employment policies and operational program coherence;
2. National Workshop on OJT: Manual Appreciation and Massive Advocacy and Implementation;

For the Executive and other Government and Non-government Institutions:

1. Good Governance: Moral and Ethical Leadership Development;
2. Job Generation: Generate more investment by preparing the country to be more attractive to foreign direct investments and local entrepreneurs; promote value- adding agribusiness development, etc.;
3. Human Resource development: serious and effective implementation of K-12 and;
4. LMI: Integrate and enhance all existing government LMI databases and link with the ASEAN or APO economies;


Regional Director
Department of Labor and Employment
– Regional Office 6
Iloilo City


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