The United Nations at its general assembly in 2014 declared July 15 as World Youth Skills day. You may find yourself wondering like I did initially about what is special about youth skills that we have to set aside a whole day to celebrate it. I am however certain that if you gave it some thought, you would come to think differently and see the need for us to have serious conversations around the skills that young people possess and how it affects development.
Coincidentally, the theme of this year’s celebration is “Development to improve youth employment”.
Considering the disadvantaged position of young people in the world today, especially in developing countries, this theme is quite apt. The goal of the World Youth skills day is to achieve better socioeconomic conditions for today’s youth as well as being a means of addressing the challenges of unemployment and underemployment that today’s youth face.
Considering the fact that young people make up almost 50 % of the world’s population and 90% of these live in developing countries, the importance of youth having necessary skills to drive development cannot be over emphasized.
Education and training are key determinants of success in the labour market but the pertinent question remains: how much of these two key determinants do today’s youth actually possess?
Despite the fact that today’s youth are probably the most educated in the history of the world till date, they are still almost three times as likely to be unemployed or underemployed than adults. So, what is lacking?
Understanding what works to support young people in today’s and tomorrow’s labour market through both education and skills development is key to the achievement of goal 4 (4.4: by 2030, increase by x% the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship) of the SDGs.
This is why World youth skills day is so important: to remind the world that youth need to be equipped with necessary skills for them to survive as well as drive global development in the 21st century and centuries to come.