World Youth Skills Day 2017

As delivered

Statement by Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly at World Youth Skills Day 2017: Skills for the future of work

17 July 2017



DE9q_uIXcAE7O_u All protocols observed


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Happy World Youth Skills Day!

I would like to thank Portugal and Sri Lanka for organizing this event and for their long-standing commitment to promoting youth issues at the United Nations.

I would also like to welcome the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Wickramanayaka. Your energy, dynamism, and experience will, I am sure, bring renewed vigor to our communal efforts.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Earlier today, I participated in a High-Level event that I jointly organized with the President of ECOSOC, on the importance of investing in youth to achieve sustainable development.

The central message to emerge from the many youth representatives, Ministers, civil society and business leaders in attendance was of the urgent need for the international community to give greater attention to issues affecting young people.

The message emphasized that specific policies to this end would not only avert the catastrophic consequences that could result from a generation of youth suffering unemployment, insecurity and discouragement, but also would provide the impetus to empower young people to drive the sustainable development and future prosperity.

Specifically, investment is required to ensure young people have access to the education, knowledge and skills they need for the jobs of the digital world, as well as for living in such a world.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

In a world where unprecedented advances in technology and innovation are reshaping societies and economies, education and training systems must keep pace. Continuous learning and refitting skills are going to be required to take advantage of ever-changing opportunities.

Shaping education and training systems to respond to these needs is itself a complex task. It is a task one that calls for international cooperation, strategic partnerships, and transfer of technology.

The multilateral system has a responsibility to bring together Governments, youth, employers, educators, and innovators to demystify the labor markets of the future, and to find innovative ways of building digital skills across the world, all in support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

With Ministers from across the world gathered here in New York at the High-Level Political Forum to discuss global progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda, we are reminded that the Sustainable Development Goals are the existential promise we have made to young people.

Implemented effectively, the 2030 Agenda, taken together with the Paris Climate Agreement, will shift humanity’s trajectory away from an unsustainable future towards one that is safe, sustainable and prosperous for all.

And as the main beneficiaries of the SDGs, and as the drivers of innovation and change, it is vital that the enthusiasm and ingenuity of youth are harnessed to transform the world for the better.

Just as youth need education and training to access decent jobs in and of the future, they also require skills development to fulfil their vital role in SDG implementation.

A new type of balance has to be struck between teaching existing knowledge, while facilitating young learners to be creative about solutions for tomorrow’s problems.

We must see investing in quality education and training as fundamental for a world of sustaining peace and sustainable development.

We need targeted policies and resources to develop the digital skills of our youth, not only so they can participate in the digital economy of the future, but also so they help shape it towards sustainability.

Specific programs need to be introduced to ensure women and girls have access to education, health and employment opportunities, so that they can secure decent jobs and are never left behind again.

And we must work cooperatively with all stakeholders in building the education and training systems that are responsive to the workplace needs of the future.


Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Achieving a future of sustainable development requires us to look at the future through a lens that highlights the inevitably of change. Today’s youth is ready to do just that. Let us empower them to do so.

I thank you for your attention.

, , , ,