15 July 2015 – For the first ever World Youth Skills Day, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth’s video message on the importance of investing in the right skills for #YouthNow.
It gives me a great pleasure to share this message with you on the occasion of the first-ever World Youth Skills Day.
This important initiative is the result of a UN General Assembly Resolution that was adopted last year at the initiative of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and with the support of many others, to highlight the importance of youth skills development worldwide.
Today, nearly one person in five is between the age of 15 and 24 years old – making the largest generation of young people the world has ever seen. The vast majority of young people today live in developing countries, countries that are working hard to make the transition to development and prosperity.
This large generation of young people can be an incredible asset– but only if equipped with the right skills that are needed for the 21st century. Today some 74 million young persons are unemployed while more than 600 million jobs needed in the next 15 years. This is a daunting task.
Yet we know that young people have the energy and ideas to change our world for the better. The role of young people in the world’s social and economic development is more important than ever before – both as rights-holders and as agents of change. Investing in youth skills development is a smart investment to ensure that half of the world’s population could meaningfully contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of their societies.
Today’s youth live in constantly changing markets and whether a young person live in a developed or developing country, they will have to continuously learn and develop new skills to match and adapt to the global economy.
The days when an academic or a technical degree represented a permanent residence in the professional life is certainly over. Today’s education could offer only a visa to enter the professional life, but to take the career forward, a different approach of thinking about skills development is needed. We need youth skills development that highlights the importance of non-formal education and life-long learning and we need education systems that focus on teaching young people how to think not only what to think.
On this special day, I encourage governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations together with young people to engage in a conversation to identify the types of investments needed to support youth skills development, and to discuss the ways to channel these investments, namely to marginalized youth.
I am personally marking this important day at the 3rd International Conference for Financing for Development in Addis Ababa by engaging financing leaders on the importance of investing in youth skills development.
I hope today’s occasion will offer us all an opportunity to elevate this central issue to enable young people with the tools that will allow them be the agents of change in their communities.
Thank you very much.