By Tony Glass
We hear so much about Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace that it is all too easy to overlook the fact that, according to the UN, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. They are continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and endure longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. Female youths face even further challenges as they are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.
This is why World Youth Skills Day is so important. This year it took place on Saturday July 15th and topics discussed and highlighted included Youth in STEM and how best to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.
While it is wonderful that this is happening and the UN is drawing attention to this problem, it is important that we do not simply box this topic into a one day, one-off event. This must be an ongoing focus which is why I recommend going to the website and downloading the Skills Development Package “Learning and Working” which is available in English and French. This resource kit was developed by UNESCO-UNEVOC primarily to facilitate the organization and implementation of awareness and motivation campaigns in least developed countries, but it is essentially a tool that could be tailored to other groups as part of a campaign to encourage enrollment in technical and vocational education and training courses and take up self-employment activities.
Coming from a corporate learning background, to say that I’m happy training and skills development is under the spotlight and considered by the UN to be key the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is an understatement. I’ve always believed in the power, the essential role that L&D plays, and never more so than in recent years. As technology evolves and advances, the workplace is propelling an unprecedented demand for not just skillsets, but highly skilled workers who can match and keep pace with it.
That the UN is drawing attention to the fundamental role training can play in combating youth joblessness is particularly prescient given recent research by The Young Enterprise. If we have a crises now, what does the future hold given 76% of those surveyed perceive the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) as equating to even fewer jobs? Respondents were further concerned they will find it increasingly difficult to get jobs that a robot can do because they lack the skills to differentiate themselves, such as team working and problem solving. The kinds of soft skills we talk a lot about are too often overlooked as we scramble to train in other, more quantifiable ‘hard’ skills.
So while the bad news is that youth unemployment is on the rise, the good news is that what at least is a part of the solution is garnering international attention.
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Tony Glass is the General Manager and VP of Sales for Skillsoft EMEA.