Photo by Lauren Ciell/A World At School
Today on World Youth Skills Day, leaders from around the world convened at the UN to discuss the urgent need to equip youth with the critical skills needed to be successful in a 21st century workforce. Of the approximately 1.8 billion youth between the ages of 10-24 — the largest ever — 73 million were unemployed in 2015, a figure that is only set to rise in many regions, with negative implications for many nation’s economic growth and stability.
World Youth Skills Day, established in 2014, was designated as an official UN day in order to raise awareness of the importance of training, technical and vocational skills, and other formal and informal methods of education for youth that are relevant to local and global economies.
At today’s UN event, world leaders mulled over the barriers to, and opportunities for, youth skills development. “Skills, education, and training are key,” said International Labour Organization’s Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships Gilbert Houngbo, for young people to realize their full potential in the workforce.
Other leaders, such as UNESCO’s Santiago office Director Jorge Sequiera, concluded that sustainable development is not attainable without investing in youth skills.
Representatives from the private sector contributed to the larger dialogue about the role skills development plays for youth employment. Vice Chair of Business Innovations for General Electric Beth Comstock shared the ways in which business can support youth.
”Maintaining close dialogue between industry and education,” Ms. Comstock explained, is necessary to promote and develop the skills young people need for the workforce. ”Our global economy, “ she added, “depends on the strength of our future workforce.”
Partnerships were noted by several leaders as playing a critical role on the youth skills development front, as well. “Government cannot do this alone,” stressed President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft.
Business can engage in partnerships with government, NGOs, education groups, and others to support youth skills development, and ensure that young people have ample access now to employment. Now, more than ever, youth ”need skills that build livelihood,” according to Annisa Triyanti from the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, a livelihood that business can foster.
Skills development cannot be led by government alone, as noted by Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly. There is a need for all stakeholders, including youth, to work to solve this challenge.
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