Social programmes and job promotion for the BRICS Youth

Social programmes and job promotion for the BRICS Youth

Besides scaling up and improving the operationalisation of the initiatives designed to offer credit, work opportunities and vocational training to the youth, the BRICS nations, like all the nations of the globe, are faced with the pressing duty of finding means of including the youth productively in the labour market, in ways that genuinely represent the ambitions of this stage in the lifecycle, instead of merely covering educational gaps of the past or fast-forwarding them to the working reality of adults.

This paper begins by exploring the diverse definitions of youth among prominent international organisations and the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa). The paper then provides insight into the re-politicisation of the youth category in light of the 2008 financial crisis and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, which have prompted an increasing focus on the creation of decent and productive employment for youth.

In light of such initiatives, the paper goes on to explore the BRICS nations’ youth agendas as well as their respective labour market concerns considering that the current central aim of the BRICS is to capitalise on the demographic dividend of a sizeable youth population.

Youth and job creation serve as central commitments in the BRICS social agenda, since their youth population is proportionally the largest it has been in history. These nations are aiming to capitalise on the demographic dividend of a surplus labour force by investing heavily in training and jobs for this population.

Highlights if the report:

  • this analysis has exposed Brazil’s diverse range of policy and programme initiatives dedicated to youth empowerment. Unfortunately, unsuccessful experiences of the past have somewhat discouraged current efforts to promote workforce programmes that should prove useful if appropriately implemented
  • Russia has demonstrated numerous measures dedicated to the youth, namely catering to young professionals in an effort to fight the skills mismatch and geographical inequalities that characterise youth unemployment in the country. Unlike the other BRICS countries, Russian initiatives have very limited progressive targeting mechanisms and still lack the means of delivering benefits to those who need them most

  • a major weakness to be overcome in India is the lack of training as a necessary complement to its credit and workforce programmes. While policies should be designed to cover the informal market, which includes 95 per cent of the country’s workforce, the State must not neglect to offer incentives and means for the formalisation of work to promote the improvement of labour conditions. Overall, the many Indian schemes and initiatives lack integration

  • China’s major employment challenge lies in geographic inequalities. However, unlike Russia, these challenges are exaggerated by the vast number of job seekers migrating from rural to urban centres. The Chinese geographic inequality issue and its effects on youth (un)employment also differ from the Russian case in light of its social protection network being partially responsible for the skills mismatch and for the dismantling of informal social safety nets (e.g. at family and community levels). This is due to social benefits being limited to the municipality of an individual’s birth — the Hoku system. Therefore, to achieve the levels of accumulated human capital seen during the second half of the 20th century, China will need to pursue active efforts to provide nationwide social policies managed by the central government

  • South Africa is facing the greatest challenges in terms of youth unemployment of all the BRICS nations. Even so, it seems to be making substantial advances towards creating youth-targeted policies through its direct income-generating social programmes


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