Top government and corporate leaders came together at the US Department of State to announce the formation of a multi-stakeholder initiative to catalyze action around effectively addressing the global youth unemployment crisis. The Youth Livelihoods Alliance: Creating Economic Opportunities for Young People (YLA) is being led by the International Youth Foundation (IYF), with the US Department of State becoming the first government agency to join. Hilton Worldwide, Microsoft, MasterCard Worldwide, Caterpillar, Manpower, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and Laureate International Universities are founding corporate members of the Alliance. The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (MIF) is the first multilateral donor institution to join.

“We are here today because there are more than 1.2 billion young people around the world who are approaching adulthood—and who need to be prepared to enter the workforce, start their own businesses, and help lead positive change in their communities,” said William S. Reese, President and CEO of IYF. “It is only by working together across all sectors to ensure they have these opportunities to succeed that we can turn this historic youth “bulge” into a youth “dividend” – and have a lasting and positive impact on our economies, our communities and our world.”

Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State, underscored the need to respond quickly to rising joblessness and unrest worldwide. “Globally, 60% of the world’s population is under 30. With youth populations swelling and young people driving global events to an unprecedented extent, we cannot afford to adapt slowly to this new landscape. Just in the last year and half, we’ve seen how young men and women – the leaders of today, not just tomorrow – have changed the course of nations.”

To carry out its mission, YLA will convene leaders in government, business and civil society to promote practical and innovative solutions to the global youth unemployment crisis and facilitate the exchange of best practices and tested models in workforce development, skills training and job creation through entrepreneurship. In addition to showcasing what companies are doing to expand job and entrepreneurship opportunities among youth, YLA will also help recruit other companies, organizations and institutions that share the Alliance’s three core commitments: to promote the hiring of young people, developing their skills, and supporting youth entrepreneurs.

At the launch event, Matt Schuyler, Chief Human Resources Officer at Hilton Worldwide, whose company is deepening its commitment to improve the lives of young people in local communities, highlighted the enormous impact the hospitality sector is having on job creation worldwide, particularly for young people. Noting that the travel and tourism industry is contributing 260 million jobs worldwide and adding US$6 trillion to the global economy, he said: “For us, youth employment is a critical business matter and key to our future.”

Branka Minic, Senior Director, Global Corporate and Government Affairs at Manpower, reported that 34% of employers globally cannot find the employees with the soft and job-related skills they need -- even in this time of high unemployment. Creating and supporting multi-sector alliances like YLA can help address such challenges. “These are the next generation of partnerships,” she said.

Next steps for YLA include holding round table discussions to highlight best practices in corporate and government programs and multi-sector partnerships; promoting on-line exchanges of information to spotlight scalable youth employment programs and strategies; and stimulating more companies, governments and donors to create partnerships and invest in effective and sustainable solutions to youth employment.