In response to the ongoing challenge of young worker vulnerability to injury and illness, the XXI World Congress in Singapore included for the first time ever, a parallel Youth Congress. The ILO Safe Youth@Work Project in collaboration with the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, invited 125 Youth Champions from more than 29 countries to participate in the SafeYouth@Work Congress. It was an opportunity for young workers and employers to learn about and make the case for safer and healthier working conditions for young people, and to propose youth-oriented approaches to achieve this objective.
“Young workers represent 25 per cent of workforce and are the most vulnerable to work-related exploitation because they tend to enter the most dangerous jobs. They can only choose between jobs without proper benefits, without proper pay, without proper resting time or having no job at all.” Said one of the youth champions, Ronnie John Barrientos from the Philippines. Barrientos welcomed the SafeYouth@Work Congress as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms which can help reduce and eventually eliminate those situations.
As part of the youth congress, a high-level SafeYouth@Work Dialogue was held, where Youth Champions were able to directly engage with international OSH experts. The dialogue led by Leppink, included Ms. Josephine Teo, Second Minister of Manpower, Singapore, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Global Leader and youth empowerment advocate, Samar Samir Mezghanni. Through the dialogue all actors present were asked to commit to an action plan for innovative ways to reduce the high incidence rate of injuries to young workers and lay the foundation for a culture of prevention on OSH. The SafeYouth@Work Action Plan provides a platform for engagement between Youth Champions and other key actors.