Whats at stake?

Being young should be about endless learning possibilities and the infinite potential of future career and life pathways, but many of you know it’s not quite that simple in reality.

How can the OECD help with this?

Understanding the massive changes taking place in the global economy, education and in the jobs market is core to what the OECD does. We want to convey some of this knowledge to you, to help you navigate the future with greater confidence.

Let's begin scrolldown

Trends such as digitalisation, automation, globalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic have been driving huge shifts in how we live, learn and work.

The demand for some skills has been in decline, as new jobs are being created that require different skills. For example, as a digital data officer you might find and investigate previously untapped sources of data, or as a fitness commitment counsellor, you might provide one-on-one remote coaching to help your clients improve wellness.  

Data detective

Ethical Sourcing Officer

Master of Edge Computing

Fitness commitment Counsellors

AI-assisted Healthcare technician

Adding to the shifting labour market, the cost of living has become a major concern for young people.

The economic shocks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including still-rising rates of inflation, have led to hikes in energy and food prices. This puts further pressure on cost of living – especially for those on lower incomes who spend most of their earnings on necessities, such as housing. Young people feature prominently in this group.   

Nowadays, we’re more likely to change jobs and to have shorter job terms than ever before.

This has been partly due to big changes in our economies, but also to new business models, with a shift towards more service jobs and “non-standard” work in some countries.

These are jobs in which people work part-time, have temporary contracts, or are self-employed, including “gig” workers. Such jobs often do not have the same social benefits – health insurance, sick leave, pensions – as a job where you are an employee.

Video from Mexico roadshow

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated these shifts and their impact beyond anything we could have imagined.  

Schooling has been disrupted, social lives have dried up, jobs have been lost, remote working has become the norm and incomes have tumbled. The economic, social and health costs of this pandemic are high. Anxiety and depression have as much as doubled in many countries and young people have been particularly affected.

It is going to take time for the world – for all of us – to recover. Now is the time to think about how we want to recover and the future of work we want to build together.”  

For you, this may mean rethinking how you learn,
what your career aspirations are or where you want to live.

What matters most to you and what do you need to reach your goals?

Why it matters to my generation

Even before COVID-19, young people reported their main worries were about making ends meet, falling ill or losing their income. Find out more

Millennials and Generation Z (those born in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) have already had to live through the impact of the 2007 global financial crisis.

In the aftermath, as many as 1 in 3 young people were not in education, training or work in some OECD countries. The situation improved during the past decade and by early 2020, young people were back in work at pre-crisis levels in most OECD countries.

How the pandemic has affected youth video

But the COVID-19 crisis has undone much of this progress. Young people have been among those at the greatest risk of joblessness.

They often do less secure, low-skill jobs and work in industries most affected by the crisis, such as tourism and restaurants, or in gig roles. By November 2020, about 1 in 7 young people were unemployed on average across the OECD. And young people report their greatest concerns today are mental health, jobs and income.

I don’t necessarily think the pandemic has changed the technical skills that I will need but it has certainly brought to my attention soft skills that I need to develop.

Learning in Progress survey, 2020, OECD and WorldSkills

I think this pandemic has helped us to realise we need to make time for ourselves. Overworking yourself and being away from people you care about is good for no one.

Learning in Progress survey, 2020, OECD and WorldSkills

Youth unemployment rate

However, even in these uncertain times, young people are stepping up!

Youth-led organisations across OECD countries have created new initiatives to help combat some of the effects of the pandemic, including supporting the elderly, addressing loneliness and anxiety, and providing additional education and career help to other young people.

What can countries do?

At the OECD, we help our member countries design policies that will improve young people’s lives

Countries recognise how vital it is for young people to have a voice in the dialogue around the future of learning and work.

From the unfolding pandemic to the future of work, we produce the data, analysis and recommendations that countries need. Our members have recently asked the OECD to develop a new Youth Action Plan in 2021 to tackle high youth unemployment and better support young people in reaching their full potential.

Whether you are a student, a young worker, unemployed, or a young entrepreneur, we would like you to join this conversation. This platform is designed to help you take part.

Share your views on social media


I have been of part many events throughout the last year but in in many of these spaces it was more a formality, saying ‘we are bringing young people to the table’ but there was no follow-up or action being taken afterwards. We need to change the behaviour of it being a formality to have a young person attend. There’s not much of a platform being provided for young people to actually take action. Developing those spaces and giving young people clearer roles for what they can do would allow us to have more continuity and empower young people.

Noelle Guirola Paganini, former Global Vice President Public Relations,
AIESEC ("Youth and COVID-19: Response, Recovery, and Resilience" OECD webinar, Washington, D.C., United States)

Whats at stake?
Why it matters to my generation
What can countries do?