Geneva. - The most recent global estimates suggest some 120 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labour, with boys and girls in this age group almost equally affected. This persistence of child labour is rooted in poverty and lack of decent work for adults, lack of social protection, and a failure to ensure that all children are attending school through to the legal minimum age for admission to employment. Around 20 to 30 per cent of children in low income countries complete their schooling and enter the labour market by the age of 15, says a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report prepared for World Day against Child Labour. Most of these children were in child labour before.
The World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young people shows that young persons who were burdened by work as children are consistently more likely to have to settle for unpaid family jobs and are more likely to be in low paying jobs.
The World Day Against Child Labour this year will focus particularly on the importance of quality education as a key step in tackling child labour. It is very timely to do so, as in 2015 the international community will be reviewing reasons for the failure to reach development targets on education and will be setting new goals and strategies.
Hazardous work among adolescents aged 15 to 17 years is one of the focuses of the 2015 Report "Paving the way to decent work for young people". Individuals in this critical age group, who are above the minimum working age in most countries but at the same time are still legally children, overlap the child labour and youth employment fields. Evidence is presented indicating that an alarming share of working adolescents aged 15 to 17 years are in hazardous work and therefore are child labourers.
The report addresses the twin challenges of eliminating child labour and ensuring decent work for young people. Based on a 12 country survey, it examines the future careers of former child labourers and early school leavers.
The main findings of the report are that:
- Prior involvement in child labour is associated with lower educational attainment, and later in life with jobs that fail to meet basic decent work criteria;
- Early school leavers are less likely to secure stable jobs and are at greater risk of remaining outside the world of work altogether;
- A high share of 15-17 year olds in many countries are in jobs that have been classified as hazardous or worst forms of child labour; and
- Those in hazardous work are more likely to have left school early before reaching the legal minimum age of employment.
The report recommends early interventions to get children out of child labour and into school as well as measures to facilitate the transition from school to decent work opportunities for young people.
Taken together, the evidence presented in the Report makes a strong case that the challenge of finding decent work during youth cannot be separated from the challenge of eliminating child labour earlier in the life cycle. Eliminating child labour, in other words, is a key policy goal in itself and a necessary starting point for achieving decent work for all.
Bild: © International Labour Organisation