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UN puts young migrants and workers in the picture on International Youth Day

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migrantHa Noi, 12 August 2013 - On August 12, the world celebrated International Youth Day. This year the focus was on the issue of youth migration. Young people, aged 10-29 years old, make up approximately 38 per cent of the total population of Viet Nam, recording the highest proportion of young people ever in the country's history.

Opportunities and challenges
This situation provides a unique and one-off economic opportunity for Viet Nam's development, but also creates enormous challenges for the country. If Viet Nam wants to reap the full benefits of this demographic window of opportunity, investing in the education and health, including the sexual and reproductive health, of adolescents and young people is paramount, Mr. Arthur Erken, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam, says.

Young migrants’ difficulties
According to Mr. Arthur Erken, young migrants often face difficulties when accessing public health services because they are not registered in their destination cities. This means they are often unable to access critical public sexual and reproductive health services, leaving them vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STI/HIV infections. Young migrants also often lack adequate knowledge on sexual and reproductive health. Many of them have only completed primary or secondary education, and comprehensive sexuality education is currently not taught in primary or middle schools in Viet Nam. Moreover, the majority of Vietnamese young migrants, especially females, slip through the net of the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and family planning (FP) programmes, traditionally targeting towards married couples only.

Strengthen health care
Strengthening the health care system in order to be able to provide affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services for young migrants is a crucial recommendation the UNFPA representative makes. Access to adequate and affordable sexual and reproductive health information and services for young migrants can reduce their unmet need for these services and thereby minimize the incidences of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and even maternal deaths. Keeping young migrants healthy and productive will ensure their active contribution to Viet Nam's productivity and development.

Improve employment quality
The UN not only focused its message on strengthening health care. According to the preliminary findings of the first national school-to-work transition survey, to be released this autumn and carried out by the General Statistics Office and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the impact that low-productive employment among the large youth population has on the growth prospects of the country is a primary concern.
The quality of jobs available for young people aged between 15 and 29 is ringing an alarm in the youth labour market in Viet Nam. The survey showed that poor quality employment impacts more than half of young workers. Nearly eight in ten are in informal employment and half of them are in irregular employment, meaning own-account work or temporary contracts. Moreover, three in every ten 15-to-29-year-olds is overeducated for their job, making them likely to earn less than they otherwise could have and fail to use the most of their productive potential.

Not an easy path
The survey pointed out that the largest share of the youth population in Viet Nam (59 per cent) has completed their labour market transition to a stable or satisfactory temporary job or self-employment, with males outnumbering females. About 23 per cent of the youngsters have not yet started the transition, mainly because they are still at school while the rest remains "in transition". For the young people who remain "in transition", they are likely to find themselves staying within the category for another long period of time. The data showed that the youth remaining in transition have already spent on average six years struggling to find a stable or satisfactory job.

Link education to economic growth
The link between education and training and export growth, economic diversification and the creation of more and better jobs should be strengthened while another set of policies, such as career guidance, job counseling, labour market information and employment services could ease the transition from school to work. The preliminary findings of the survey showed that the most popular job search method for the young people is now through "asking friends, relatives and acquaintances".
ILO Viet Nam Country Director Gyorgy Sziraczki said young people in Viet Nam need supports to make their labour market transition smoother, which will help the whole country "unleash their full potentials".

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