World Youth Skills Day 2016: “Skills Development to Improve Youth Employment” (15 July 2016)

“[Strengthening youth employment] will require closing the skills-gap and ensuring that youth receive the education and training necessary to align with the needs of today’s private sector and global economy.”

--- Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa

Youth, Skills and Employment

Around the globe, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labor market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions.

Evidence shows that education is a core determinant of youth employment outcomes. Yet in Sub-Saharan Africa over one-half of young workers do not have the level of education required to work productively on the job. Young people are highly vulnerable to poor quality jobs. Young women are even more likely to be underemployed and under-paid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.

The complex challenge to boost productive youth employment can be achieved through a combination of improved employment and economic policies, education and training, labour market policies, promotion of entrepreneurship, and labour rights.

Education and training are key determinants of success in the labor market. But unfortunately, existing systems are failing to address the learning needs of many young people, and surveys of learning outcomes and skills show that a large number of youth have low levels of achievement in basic literacy and numeracy. Skills and jobs for youth feature prominently in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Goal 4, target 4 calls for a substantial increase in the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills.

The African Union laid out a set of Youth and Women Development Objectives during the 2014 Ouagadougou+10 summit that state a determination “to reduce unemployment in our countries, in particular of youth and women”. Through complementary actions and policies the AU mainstreams youth and women employment, including through organizational results-based measures to demonstrate impact. The first Ten-Year Implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 plan aims to reduce the overall unemployment across the continent by 25%, with a specific target of reduction of 2% per year in unemployment rate of women and youth to be achieved every year through 2023.

Young girl learning computer skills

Photo © International Youth Foundation

About World Youth Skills Day

July 15 is World Youth Skills Day, and the United Nations is observing the day with a special event on the theme of “Skills Development to Improve Youth Employment.” Understanding what works to support young people in today’s and tomorrow’s labor market through training and skills development will be key to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and will be at the center of a high-level event organized at UN Headquarters by the Office of the UN Envoy on Youth.

2016 Celebration