Youth and Decent Work: A Review of Today’s Facts, Challenges and Possible Solutions

young office

(Brooke Cagle, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Utku Timurçin, a 4th year medical student and a public health advocate, Member of Turkish Medical Students Associations’. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


ILO describes “decent work” as “productive and delivers fair income; provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families; offers prospects for personal development and encourages social integration; gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives; and guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all”.

Youth, the foundation for todays’ economies and the society of tomorrow. Proportion of young people is growing every day, but there are not so many opportunities for young population in todays’ world of economics. Unemployment and working poverty rates disproportionately affect young people globally. Some 71.1 million (13.1%) young people around the world are unemployed, and 158.5 million young workers live in extreme or moderate poverty (i.e. existing on less than US$ 3.10 per day).

Back in 2018, ILO launched a report, concerning the employment of the world’s population and how vulnerable or how “decent” their work is. It’s estimated that, there are 1.4 billion people working on this planet, who are working in a vulnerable working environment. That means, those who sexually harassed, depressed, discouraged, biased are the 3 out of 4 workers around the world.  Well, it seems a lot, isn’t it?

What are the challenges?

First to start with gender discrimination, it can be e.g. directly excluding women from decision making processes or putting gaps to payments. It is also common to act as the “social norms” which generate imbalance in the working environment.

If we look into health system, many nurses and midwifes are frustrated with their lack of voice heard from the authorities, not being respected by their seniors and exposed to sexual harassment at their working area.

Another fact is that, in USA, there are 1 million licensed physicians by March 2019, working to provide healthcare. Although the gap between male and female doctors are shortening, there is still a massive gap holding with %63 of male and %37 of female.

The lack of mentorship, impatience from employees, high expectations are challenging to new graduates. It increases professional deformation from early age and harms seriously to ones’ mental health. It adds up quite fast, when they face inequities of any kinds around the working environment too.

What can be the solutions?

First of all, we must create a safe, free and gender-equal working environment in health system. As doctors, nurses, midwifes, lab technicians, etc. we all work to provide healthcare in the best way possible.

Giving chance to young people, allowing them to express their concerns and ideas will help improve our current situation. Mentoring them, supporting their well-being and bridging the gaps of all kinds, will decrease the possibility of confronting with mental health issues. To create sustainable economic growth, productive employment and decent work; government bodies, employers and those who has the power, should take charge.

If we want to achieve the SDGs by the end of 2030, we must all stand against these current situations and start to change them now!

About the author

Utku Timurçin is a 4th year medical student and a public health advocate. Member of Turkish Medical Students Associations’, National Member Organization for International Federation of Medical Students Associations. He’s been working in IFMSA SCOME field for the past 4 year to address medical education problems, challenges and raise awareness in order to access better quality of education and its benefits to the public health.

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