Much of the world faces the bleak prospect of higher youth unemployment in the coming years, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said Tuesday, with North Africa and the Middle East experiencing the highest rates. While unemployment among youth under the age of 24 would fall from 17.5 per cent this year to below 16 per cent by 2017 in developed countries, including the European Union, the ILO report said this is “principally because discouraged young people are withdrawing from the labour market and not because of stronger hiring activity among youngsters.” In other parts of the world, weaker Western demand for industrial products was cited as the main reason for the report’s pessimistic outlook. The situation is most severe in politically unstable regions such as North Africa and the Middle East, dpa reported. The already high youth unemployment rate in North Africa was projected to rise slightly from 27.5 per cent this year to 27.6 per cent in 2013, while the Middle East was forecast to climb from 26.4 to 27 per cent. Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to stagnate at a 17.5 per cent rate for the next five years. Around 13 per cent of youth in South-East Asia are currently unemployed. The ILO said the rate would rise to 14.2 per cent until 2017. The report appealed to governments to spend money on targeted training programmes for its young citizens. “In times of constrained public finances, this may seem like a large additional burden, but it will be less than the additional costs that come from young unemployed people permanently losing touch with the labour market,” the report said.