Darfurian refugees in Chad. Photo © UNHCR / F. Noy
We’ve seen the statistics before: 825 million youth by 2030 lacking the basic skills needed for employment; more than 114 million youth across the world today illiterate; and 71 million youth unemployed as of the end of last year. The numbers feel staggering, insurmountable, overwhelming. If we take a step back and imagine these numbers as individuals who have the power to shape a better future, then we can begin to imagine how business and other members of the international community can prepare these individuals for the workforce of tomorrow.
On July 15, the global community will be celebrating World Youth Skills Day, recognizing the critical nature of skills and talents development for young people. For the business community, having a highly-skilled and educated workforce is critical for improving growth and innovation.
Of the 71 million unemployed youth across the world, 15.3 million are in Africa alone. Picture one of those 15.3 million – a young woman in Ethiopia. Her economic prospects are affected by her gender, where she lives, and her level of education. In fact, education is so vital, it can determine her literacy and her ability to have the skills set needed for a modern economy. Having an education and the potential for a stable job helps overcome societal barriers and traps such as gender discrimination, forced child marriage, and extreme poverty.
For a country that has been experiencing dramatic economic growth over the last few years, Ethiopia’s youth unemployment rate is at 7.4% – or about 4 million people between the ages of 15 and 29. In addition, young women in Ethiopia are twice as likely to be unemployed as young men.
A business that is operating in Ethiopia will look at this young woman’s skill-sets and see a future employee, therefore propelling further growth and making the community a more compelling investment for the private sector.
The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) recognizes the need for today’s youth to have the skills, education, and knowledge to operate in a complex economy and emerge out of vicious cycles of poverty. Through its Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative, GBC-Education is identifying new models to rapidly enhance the skills and readiness of young people in addition to inspiring collective action among a diverse set of partners.
In fact, this September, GBC-Education will be releasing a major report in partnership with Deloitte, using the youth perspective to outline a series of recommendations shaping the way business invests in young people today.
To learn more about the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative or how you can get involved, please contact Jamira Burley at firstname.lastname@example.org.