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G20 Leaders: Entrepreneurship Can Tackle Youth Unemployment

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On November 15 and 16, the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau will be part of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Antalya, Turkey. The Group of Twenty is an international forum for governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. Collectively, the G-20 economies account for around 85 per cent of the gross world product, 80 per cent of world trade and two thirds of the world's population.

G20 leaders will surely discuss urgent issues such the migrant crisis, the conflict in Syria and climate change. There is another crisis that isn't receiving much media attention: It is global youth unemployment.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned in its latest report that 73.4 millions of young people in the world continue to struggle to find work with global youth unemployment set to rise further above its pre-downturn level. Young people also faced higher unemployment than older workers. The youth unemployment rate has been consistently close to three times that of the adult unemployment rate since 1995. The ratio was 2.9 in 2014. In Canada, in September 2015, youth unemployment was at
13.5 per cent, which is almost double the national average of 7.1 per cent.

Last September, 600 young entrepreneurs from the 20 largest economies (including 24 young Canadians selected by Futurpreneur) called upon G20 leaders to tackle youth unemployment by fostering youth entrepreneurship. Since small and medium businesses (SMBs) and entrepreneurs create jobs, G20 governments should build the best ecosystem to support them. Canadian youths are entrepreneurial, global-minded and driven, but they need proper support, especially young female entrepreneurs as well as young entrepreneurs from visible minorities and First Nations.

For example, digital infrastructure is at the heart of our innovation ecosystems, improving the performance of a broad range of companies built by entrepreneurs, enabling them to bring new products to market and allowing them to work with multiple partners. Such collaboration boosts economic growth and the greater use of digital platforms will enable a stronger model of entrepreneurship and innovation. Young entrepreneurs call upon G20 governments to lead a process of collaboration that engages governments, high-growth SMBs, businesses, and stakeholders in education and science in building the next generation of digital infrastructure.

According to the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Accenture report "Harnessing the Power of Entrepreneurs to Open Innovation," a collaboration of this kind represents a $1.5 trillion growth opportunity, equivalent to 2.2 per cent of global GDP. In Canada, it means $43 billion of potential growth, equivalent to 2.6 per cent of the Canadian economy.

Also, G20 leaders should initiate the development of a G20-wide entrepreneur visa program. This year's EY report "From Classroom to Boardroom" identified the need for G20 countries to remove barriers for entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses globally.

During the last federal electoral campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to provide direct support to incubators and accelerators, research facilities, financing, and other support for successful small companies wanting to grow and export by investing $200 million per year over the next three years in a new innovation agenda and by creating successful networks like the American and German partnerships between businesses, government, and university and college research.

By putting this electoral promise into Canada's G20 action plan, Prime Minister (and Minister of Youth) Justin Trudeau can be the champion of youth entrepreneurship and youth participation in employment at this year's G20 Leaders Summit. And it will make a difference: G20 leaders normally take action after the Summit. According to the University of Toronto's G20 Research Group's Compliance Report, G20 governments have complied with 88 per cent of their 2014 G20 Leaders' Summit commitments regarding labour and employment. Last year, G20 leaders pledged a two per cent growth over the next five years. I sincerely hope that such growth will be inclusive, allowing young people to contribute so we can avoid a lost generation.

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