UN MGCY Statement
World Youth Skills Day
15 July 2016
PDF Version- HERE
Today, we celebrate the World Youth Skills day 2016. We are reminded about the importance of investing in youth skills development.
Youth are often framed as “inexperienced” and not prioritized in policies aimed at creating decent work. As a result, youth unemployment rates are disproportionately higher worldwide than the overall unemployment rate.
Education both formal and informal for all genders, is a fundamental human right and a way to address skills and associated work. Investing in education is essential in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
Given this opportunity, I would like to share my experience of working in the education sector and highlight the importance of the educational system to support the skills development of youth.
I was born in Indonesia, and experienced the education system up until my university studies. During my bachelors education, every student in Indonesia has to pass a module in Community Service programme in order to graduate.
This programme requires every student to spend two months with a local community, where we work with local people to tackle the current and most challenging issues in the community ranging from livelihood improvement through tourism and disaster response, to conservation of natural resources.
￼I was lucky to partake in disaster response for the community services module. To put it in context, Mount Merapi in Central Java erupted in 2010, and killed more than 347 people and displaced 13.312 people. All basic infrastructure had collapsed, leaving people without access to basic needs and decent work.
As young students, we worked towards restoring the everyday lives of people affected. Some students took initiatives to teach in temporary schools built from thin bamboo walls, while others helped to build temporary shelters and clean up streets.
As Geography students, we engaged with the community, especially children and youth using informal and formal formats on how to reduce and mitigate hazards and risks in order to protect themselves. Just as an example building a volcanic risk map for raising their awareness of the risk.
However, the learning process is not a one way stream from students to the community, but works both ways. The interactions resulted in communities teaching new skills to the student volunteers. These skills were mostly linked to the use of local materials and to add value to them, including traditional food and local products like batik, famous Javanese handmade fabric. These helped in sustainable use of local material, preservation of culture and livelihoods.
I had to supervise the same program 3 years later when I started working as a young lecturer, and I have seen my students gain social skills from working with the community.This programme has been an effective way to raise awareness among youth in the formal education system in regards to being an active member of civil society and creating responsibility towards their environment.
More efforts are needed to balance the provision of formal and informal skills in the education system, which provides young students with many different types of skills sets, that enhance the quality of their lives and the community, preserve the environment, and create livelihoods.
We also need to address the commitment towards meaningful lifelong learning opportunities that all young people should have access to, especially the ones belonging to marginalized groups. To use a catch phrase skill development must “leave no one behind”.
￼These learning opportunities should include new and appropriate technologies, indigenous knowledge, life skills and local skill gaps, both through formal and informal avenues, including peer learning.
Furthermore, in order to ensure the most fit for purpose delivery, multistakeholder cooperation and partnerships with all economic and social partners is essential including educational entities, civil society organizations, youth groups and employers. These could focus on joint development of roadmaps and thematic content, along with access to financing.
In addition to this very personal experience as a young person, student, and junior lecturer, I’m also speaking here as a representative of the UN Major group for children and youth the formal engagement mechanism for young people in intergovernmental and allied processes at the UN.
Through the process of the sustainable development agenda, the constituency of young people and youth organisations have taken a formal position on this topic through the UN Major Group for Children and Youth.
The wide variety of inputs have ranged from “everyone should be entrepreneur and it's their fault for not being employed” to “ the current discourse on employment and skills is a garb to channel young people in the service imperial private capital”.
Keeping this diversity in mind, and extensive procedures, the following has been our formal position and endorsement:
1. We very much advocated for and appreciate the 2030 Agenda target 8.6 on youth unemployment and the means of implementation target 8.b on operationalising a youth employment strategy
2. While welcoming these, we want to raise concern over the fact that the formal measurement of youth unemployment only counts young people between the ages of 1524. Many young people have not even finished their education by then. This leaves behind a sizable population of young people.
3. Our formal position also includes a push back against the rhetoric that over emphasizes entrepreneurship’ as a blanket strategy to address youth unemployment
4. We also strongly disapprove the policy suggestions that assert that a primary strategy for education and skills building should be based on private sector demands and bridging this gap for ‘job creation’.
We hope and urge for the analysis and discourse around this to be rooted in identifying community needs and associated skill building that creates livelihoods. Skills are for life and create a desirable society.
We needs skills that build livelihoods while empowering people, create the quality, and conserving the planet.