Thursday, August 18, 2022

World Youth Skills Day

Transforming youth skills for the future

We are aware that there is no universally agreed international definition of the youth age group. For statistical purposes, however, the United Nations—without prejudice to any other definitions made by Member States—defines ‘youth’ as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This definition, which arose in the context of preparations for the International Youth Year (1985) (see A/36/215), was endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 36/28 of 1981. All UN statistics on youth are based on this definition, as is reflected in the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the UN system on demography, education, employment and health.
The age differs in different countries when it comes to the definition of the youth but here we are focusing on the definition of the UN when it comes to youth. There are many issues that are affecting young people around the world. The situation varies from country to country or continent to continent. When it comes to youth then a few buzzing words that come to our mind include employment, jobs, skills, etc.
Recent estimates suggest that 600 million jobs would have to be created over the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs. The proportion of young people not in employment, education or training (the youth NEET rate) has remained stubbornly high over the past 15 years and now stands at 30 per cent for young women and 13 per cent for young men worldwide.
Enterprises and organizations brought skills development almost to a standstill due to lockdown measures introduced during the pandemic. Training was interrupted for 86 percent of apprentices and 83 percent of interns/trainees. Nearly half of the enterprises have stopped paying stipend or wages to apprentices, interns and trainees. The youth population will grow by more than 78 million between 2021 and 2030. Low income countries will account for nearly half of that increase. Education and training systems need to respond to this challenge.
One of the important events when it comes to skill development and young people is the observance of Youth Skills Day. In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15th July as World Youth Skills Day (WYSD), to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. Since then, WYSD has provided a unique opportunity for dialogue between young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, firms, employers’ and workers’ organizations, policy-makers and development partners.
This year it takes place amid concerted efforts towards socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that are interconnected with challenges such as climate change, conflict, persisting poverty, rising inequality, rapid technological change, demographic transition and others. Young women and girls, young persons with disabilities, youth from poorer households, rural communities, indigenous peoples, and minority groups, as well as those who suffer the consequences of violent conflict and political instability, continue to be excluded due to a combination of factors.
The United Nations and its agencies, such as UNESCO-UNEVOC, are well placed to help address these challenges by reducing access barriers to the world of work, ensuring that skills gained are recognized and certified, and offering skills development opportunities for out-of-school youth and those not in employment, education or training (NEET). During this Decade of Action for the 2030 Agenda, the full engagement of young people in global processes is vital to generate positive change and innovation. Most of the countries are focusing on skill development activities to encourage innovation and engagement of youths for positive transformation.
The Secretary General of the UN in his message said that “young people are disproportionately impacted by interlinked global crises, from climate change to conflicts to persistent poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these fragilities. In 2020 alone, youth employment fell by 39 million. Today, 24 million young people remain at risk of not returning to school.” He further said that “together, let us build a more just and thriving workforce, rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.”
Effective skill training can enhance the path towards sustainable development. Proper planning and engaging youths is important. In India, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is responsible for coordination of all Skill Development efforts across the country, removal of disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, building the vocational and technical training framework, skill up-gradation, building of new skills and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also jobs that are to be created. The Ministry aims to skill on a large scale with speed and high standards in order to achieve its vision of a ‘Skilled India’.
Together we can bring a positive change through effective skill training programmes. Coordinated efforts are needed amongst different stakeholders to make it more effective. If we can transform the youth skills in a positive way then we can ensure a sustainable future for all of us.
Ranjan K Baruah
bkranjan@gmail.com

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