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The MasterCard Foundation pledges US $14.6 million to create “Work4Youth” partnership with the ILO Youth Employment Programme

New partnership will increase the global awareness of the challenges facing youth as they move from education to the world of work

Geneva and Toronto, December 14, 2011 – The International Labour Office (ILO) and The MasterCard Foundation have forged a unique partnership to promote decent work among young people facing a worsening jobs crisis marked by high unemployment, working poverty and youth discouragement.

The five year, $14.6 million “Work4Youth” partnership will increase the global awareness of the challenges facing young people as they move from education to the world of work. The partnership supports the improvement of youth employment policy making and programme development worldwide.

“We must give young people a chance to find decent work,” said Gianni Rosas, coordinator of the ILO Youth Employment Programme. “This is essential to eradicating poverty, fostering democracy and promoting sustainable development. Access to productive and decent work is indispensable if young people are to realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and make a positive contribution to society.”

A recent ILO report warned of the creation of a “lost generation” of young people scarred by growing frustration with the lack of good jobs. The ILO indicated that even though the absolute number of unemployed youth fell slightly since its peak in 2009 – from 75.8 million to 75.1 million in late 2010, young people are increasingly struggling to find jobs or are giving up on finding work.

“The MasterCard Foundation is proud to partner with the ILO to provide accurate and timely youth employment and education data to policy makers around the world as they seek to tackle the challenge of youth employment,” said Deepali Khanna, Director of Youth Learning for The MasterCard Foundation. “Our partnership with the ILO is a good example of how policy-makers, the private-sector, other employers and educational institutions can engage with international organizations to promote the expansion of decent work opportunities for young women and men around the world.”

Through the “Work4Youth” partnership, school to work transition surveys will be undertaken in 28 countries across five regions. These surveys will increase the limited available information on difficulties facing young people during their transition to decent work, especially in developing countries. The data and information generated by these surveys will be included in a series of analytical national, regional and global reports on youth employment. The reports are designed to assist policy-makers and practitioners working on questions of youth employment and school to work transitions in making informed program and policy decisions to meet the needs of young people.

The ILO decent work paradigm aims to provide more and better jobs to young people, in conditions of freedom and in full respect of youth aspirations and rights at work. The inability to find stable employment creates a sense of frustration and idleness among young people. It poses significant challenges to young people themselves and societies at large. Furthermore, it hampers the capacity of companies and countries to innovate and develop competitive advantages.

Private sector is the main creator of present and future jobs worldwide. Partnerships between public and private sector, and the active engagement of the latter in the promotion of decent work for youth can be pivotal for eradicating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“It is crucial to act now, as young people are increasingly becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of working poverty, with terrible lasting effects on their lives and their societies. We must provide learning opportunities that help the 152 million young working poor improve productivity, savings, investments and income – whilst not disrupting their daily work, which allows their subsistence.” Mr. Rosas said. “Creative solutions and partnerships that address the youth employment challenge are urgently needed. The Work4Youth partnership is an example of such an initiative.”

About The MasterCard Foundation 

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006.www.mastercardfdn.org

About the ILO 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to advancing opportunities for young women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues. In promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, the organization continues to pursue its founding mission that social justice is essential to prosperity and lasting peace. www.ilo.org/youth

Contacts:

Krista Pawley
V.P. Communications
The MasterCard Foundation
Email: kpawley@mastercardfdn.org
Tel: +1 – 647-837-5787

Houtan Homayounpour 
ILO Youth Employment Programme 
Email: homayounpour@ilo.org 
Tel: +41 22 799 82 34

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