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Youth Employment Network (YEN)

March 8, 2010

The Youth Employment Network (YEN) supports employment-generating activities, programmes and policies for youth. It was established in 2001 as a partnership between the United Nations, the ILO and the World Bank to give effect to the global commitment in the Millennium Declaration of “developing and implementing strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work”.


  • To what extent is Ghana linked into YEN activities and resources?

The YEN secretariat, based at the ILO in Geneva, promotes coherent approaches, which integrate supply- and demand-side strategies, in stimulating youth employment. The YEN combines a political strategy with the technical experience and implementation capacity of its partner organizations to address the ongoing challenges of unemployment and underemployment of young people. The YEN therefore plays an important role in facilitating communication and information sharing, linking important initiatives and stakeholders. It also fills a key international coordinating role in operationalizing peer partnerships among participating countries.


The YEN’s activities and contributions include:

  • Ensuring political buy-in and national backing for the National Action Plan process. United Nations General Assembly resolutions request countries to develop National Action Plans on youth employment (NAPs). The YEN supports the formulation of NAPs in its lead countries—those countries that have committed at the highest political level to creating decent and productive work for young people and to preparing a national review and action plan on youth employment. The YEN works in close partnership with its core partners to motivate Governments to operationalize their commitments. Much of this work can be seen as helping to create the basic conditions required for a multi-stakeholder approach.
  • Promoting policy coherence and the engagement of the core partners. The YEN works to bring together its three core agencies, both at headquarters level and in the field, thereby demonstrating the combined strength of an inter-agency effort and providing strategic guidance to the YEN lead countries in the development of NAPs.
  • Adopting a network approach. The complexity of the youth employment challenge underscores the need for the engagement of a broad range of actors. The YEN with its wide network and national mandate provides outreach and network support by generating buy-in from other stakeholders as necessary, allowing for a more holistic and sustainable approach to NAP development. This includes engagement across ministries and with the private sector, municipal authorities, parliamentarians and civil society groups at the international and national levels and youth.
  • Promoting youth participation. Building on General Assembly resolutions which encourage youth participation in the NAPs, the YEN has built a strong relationship with youth through its Youth Consultative Group on the global level and with national youth groups in the lead countries. The YEN has a track record in capacity-building activities to support the engagement of youth in the development of employment policy.
  • Developing relationships with supportive countries. The YEN secretariat has the ability to leverage a range of resources—political, technical and financial—to support the development of NAPs, complementing resources mobilized by core partner agencies.
  • Facilitating knowledge sharing, production and dissemination of tools and resources. The YEN secretariat facilitates the sharing of knowledge on NAP development through its lead country network and beyond. In addition, it develops tools and resources to assist countries in the formulation of their NAPs and promotes the tools of its core partners.
  • Supporting monitoring, evaluation and ongoing improvement of NAPs. The YEN is developing indicators on youth employment and benchmarks to measure progress. It facilitates peer partnerships to improve NAPs.
  • Providing a platform and access to the international arena. It can assist the partners in bringing policy messages into forums such as the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development and the World Bank’s Annual Meetings, and open doors for participation in YEN partner activities.


The YEN promotes young people as assets—as catalysts for development—rather than as passive beneficiaries for whom employment must be found. In 2004, a YEN Youth Consultative Group was launched, comprising representatives of large international and regional youth organizations to provide advice and guidance to the YEN’s work. The Youth Consultative Group also assists the YEN secretariat to identify youth organizations on the national level for country-level activities such as youth consultations or different youth capacity-building activities.


  • Youth Employment Promotion: A Review of ILO Work and the Lessons Learned (2005)
  • Improving Prospects for Young Women and Men in the World of Work (2004)
  • Joining Forces with Young People: A Practical Guide to Collaboration for Youth Employment (2007)
  • Best practices in private sector collaboration for youth employment (2008)
  • Is youth employment a priority in West Africa? An analysis of national policies and budgets from a youth perspective (2008)


Youth Employment Network
International Labour Office
CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 799 8055 | Fax: +41 22 799 7978


Youth and the United Nations

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