ADDIS: first UN World Youth Skills Day celebrates importance of empowering young people

A young man at a vocational education and training centre, participating in the World Bank’s National Initiative for Human Development Support Project (INDH). Photo: Dana Smillie/World Bank

15 July 2015 – On the first-ever commemoration of World Youth Skills Day, United Nations officials today declared that investing in developing the skills of young people can help build a more just and sustainable future for all and is one of the most important decisions any country can make.

While, overall, more young people have greater educational opportunities than in the past, there are still some 75 million adolescents who are out of school, denied the quality education they deserve and unable to acquire the skills they need, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in his message for the Day, observed on 15 July.

“We may see an understandably frustrated youth population, but that picture is incomplete,” said Mr. Ban. “With the right skills, these young people are exactly the force we need to drive progress across the global agenda and build more inclusive and vibrant societies.”

He went on to say that skills development reduces poverty and better equips young people to find decent jobs. It triggers a process of empowerment and self-esteem that benefits everyone. And it strengthens youth capacity to help address the many challenges facing society, moving us closer to ending poverty hunger, injustice and environmental degradation.

“On this Day, I call for investing politically and financially in developing the skills of young people so that they can help build a more just and sustainable future for all.”

The UN General Assembly declared 15 July World Youth Skills Day to raise awareness of the importance of developing youth skills. The Day is also in line with the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which Member States are expected to adopt in September, that include two goals on education and skills for employment.

Goal 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, while Goal 8 is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

The Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, marked the Day in Addis Ababa, where representatives of governments, the private sector and civil society have gathered for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development with the aim of launching a renewed global partnership for sustainable development.

Ahmad Alhendawi talks about the importance of investing in youth and ensuring their access to decent jobs. Credit: UN News Centre

“When we think of about financing for development, we better think about investing in the largest asset that the world has today – its young people,” Mr. Alhendawi said in an interview with the UN News Centre.

“The smartest investment any country could make is to invest in its youth,” he emphasized. “That's true in all countries around the world. That's even more true in developing countries, where 90 per cent of young people today are found.”

According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), around 600 million jobs will be needed in the next 15 years to tackle youth unemployment.


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