Much policy discussion has centred on what to do about persistently high rates of youth unemployment. Two approaches have been adopted, in varying degrees, in OECD countries over the years; one focuses on increasing participation in schooling, and the other on active labour market programs to help youth find jobs. In addition, programs in some countries target youth experiencing homelessness, drug abuse, or crime.
Recent policies are placing more emphasis on vocational education; the OECD notes that “countries with well-established vocational and apprenticeship programmes have been more effective in holding the line on youth unemployment by smoothing the transition from education to work.”2
Canada devotes less than 0.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to active labour market programs (for all age groups) such as training and skill development, career information, and job search and placement supports. This amount trails most of its peer countries. The link between spending and reductions in jobless youth, however, is not straightforward.