World Youth Skills Day: Education key to reaching potential
Building skills of youth has been evolving around various methodologies and approaches from conferences, workshops, and trainings to internships, simulations, mentorships and coaching. This is linked to the technological progress that impacts the flow of knowledge and the way one acquires it. Technology has an impact on the time barriers in any learning process on one hand; and on the advancement and level of education one must have on the other. Nowadays, information can be acquired through various technological means without any mediator, so education shall be focused on knowledge and skills rather than simple information that could be acquired via search engines.
The insecure pathways from school to work are mainly due to the mismatch between the skills that job candidates have, and the skills demanded by employers. Thus, it leads to structural unemployment and labor market inequalities affecting all states around the world regardless of their level of development. Unemployment nowadays is no longer impacting economies or youth but the entire social transformation where it hinders the transition to equitable and inclusive societies.
Unfortunately, our existing education systems are failing to build the personal capacities of youth to prepare them to become leaders of today instead of a marginalized and disconnected group. Skills and jobs for youth are featured prominently in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and SDG target 4.4 calls for a substantial increase in the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
Fundamentally, building skills of young people is not limited solely to access to quality education, but also to proper nutrition and adequate health care. Children, adolescents and youth are the most vulnerable to harsh living conditions, rapid shocks to livelihood and general deprivation. Building skills of youth requires primarily to unleash one’s talents and capacities which is a complex process that has different tools such as individual development assessment surveys. There shall be an enabling environment for building capacities that can transform any learning experience to a lifetime one that has an impact on one’s attitude and perceptions. Creating such enabling environment needs to target the different actors in the close circle of any young person from parents and teachers that will contribute in discovering one’s skills and talents. Usually skills are related to certain obvious or embedded talents that are key for anyone to excel in his/her profession and become the best in the skills of his/her choice.
Therefore, any skill-building process should not wait until adolescence but start from early childhood, which is the essential phase for discovering our talents. Afterward, a sustainable and structured skill-building process should be conducted as a learning mechanism incorporated into one’s lifestyle. Subsequently, mapping talents should be considered as a pre-requisite for any socio-economic development in order to set development approaches based on a robust assessment of the current skills deficit. Only then can we consider that we have effectively built at a large scale the skills of youth who are capable of shifting the current reality from one status to another.
Hiba Huneini is the manager of the Youth and Civic Engagement Program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.