Skills for a Resilient Youth in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond
World Youth Skills Day 2020 will take place in a challenging context. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have led to the worldwide closure of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, threatening the continuity of skills development.
It is estimated that nearly 70% of the world’s learners are affected by school closures across education levels currently. Respondents to a survey of TVET institutions, jointly collected by UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank, reported that distance training has become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties regarding, among others, curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.
Prior to the current crisis, young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and often faced a prolonged school-to-work transition period. In post-COVID-19 societies, as young people are called upon to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience to adapt to future disruptions.
The importance of developing skilled youth is at the core of this year’s message for World Youth Skills Day. Several virtual events focused on the theme of “Skills for a Resilient Youth” will take place. On 15 July, join an online panel discussion organized by the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka to the United Nations, together with UNESCO, ILO and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
Why is World Youth Skills Day important?
Rising youth unemployment is one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world, for developed and developing countries alike. The latest Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs shows that since 2017, there has been an upward trend in the number of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET).
In 2016 there were 259 million young people classified as NEET – a number that rose to an estimated 267 million in 2019, and is projected to continue climbing to around 273 million in 2021. In terms of percentage, the trend was also slightly up from 21.7% in 2015 to 22.4% in 2020 – implying that the international target to reduce the NEET rate by 2020 will be missed.
Designated by the General assembly in 2014, the World Youth Skills Day is an opportunity for young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, and public and private sector stakeholders to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.
What Role Does Technical and Vocational Education and Training Play?
Education and training are central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. The vision of the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 is fully captured by Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Education 2030 devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); the acquisition of technical and vocational skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship; the elimination of gender disparity and ensuring access for the vulnerable. In this context, TVET is expected to address the multiple demands of an economic, social and environmental nature by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship, promoting equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and supporting transitions to green economies and environmental sustainability.
TVET can equip youth with the skills required to access the world of work, including skills for self-employment. TVET can also improve responsiveness to changing skill-demands by companies and communities, increase productivity and increase wage levels. TVET can reduce access barriers to the world of work, for example through work-based learning, and ensuring that skills gained are recognised and certified. TVET can also offer skills development opportunities for low-skilled people who are under- or unemployed, out of school youth and individuals not in education, employment and training (NEETs).
As young people continue to showcase their adaptability and resilience at this challenging time, UNESCO-UNEVOC is calling on all TVET youth to submit video stories of how they are coping and continuing to learn during lockdown. These stories will be shared as part of the campaign to mark World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) and highlight the importance of skills development for a resilient youth.Tell us your story!