Higher youth unemployment rate is a growing concern not only in the developed world but also among other countries, and fast becoming an issue of a global extent.
Under today’s industrial structure that emphasizes services, skills and technologies, younger generation workers need to develop more advanced skills and capabilities than those required for former generations. As the labor market globalizes, private enterprises tend to seek cheaper labor force anywhere in the world, which further exacerbates the employment situation surrounding the younger generation workers.
In Europe, the problem of higher youth unemployment rate became highly evident in 1970’s. Since then, various countries like Germany and UK adopted measures that met some successes, but no cure-for-all prescription was found to solve this problem. In fact, the issue still lingers and rather has been augmented further in some countries, especially in France.
It was early 1990’s when the problem appeared in Japan with the burst of bubble economy. At that time the unemployment rates rose universally in all generations, and in 2003, the youth unemployment rate reached unprecedentedly high 10.1%.
At the same time, the population of youth with no employment or temporary/unstable employment increased drastically, which gave rise to a new type of social problems. To address such issues, many policy proposals as well as surveys and analysis were made from every conceivable perspective, ranging from education and employment to industrial and economic systems including private enterprises.
Since fiscal year 2004, the Government of Japan developed and implemented concrete inter-ministerial level policies and measures among the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on the "Young People’s Independence and Challenge Plan." As in the case of similar precedents in Europe, these types of policies and measures would not produce immediate and profound effects. In order to achieve the goal set forth, therefore, all stakeholders in educational institutions, industries, administration, and local communities as well as citizens need to persistently exert efforts to improve the situation over a long period of time.
Upon the third anniversary of the enactment of "Young People’s Independence and Challenge Plan", the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute established this Research Committee under the sponsorship of Japan Keirin Association. Chaired by Prof. Akira Takanashi of Shinshu University, the Committee aims to analyze the current situation of young people’s jobs and employment, to identify issues involved, and to recommend policy proposals.
As mentioned above, the themes of this Research Committee cover a broader area ranging from school education to labor, industrial structure, human resource development by private enterprises, and local communities.
During the first year, the Committee focused its works on the analysis of current situation and the identification of issues involved, highlighting the career education and capacity building of younger generations. Listed below are the issues addressed in this Committee.
- 1. Effectiveness and challenges of "Young People’s Independence and Challenge Plan"
- Measures to promote the development of vocational education and professional training in schools, including the schools of compulsory education
- Exploring the way to improve human resource development in industries and businesses, so to build a socio-economic system that can raise "hope and pride" in works and professions among young workers
- Measures to provide assistance to the youths of temporary or no employment, such as "freeters (Japanese words for workers with temporary works only)" and "NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training)"
- Inter-ministerial level discussion to create more employment opportunities for youths and the development of a legislative system to facilitate such inter-ministerial efforts
The Committee published the report in Japanese to summarize its works in the first year with Chairman Takanashi describing the principle stance of the Committee. The report also contained reference materials as annex, illustrating the background and relevant situation.