U.N. Promotes Youth Labor Skills #WYSD2016

by | Jul 14, 2016 | News, Vincentian Family, Vincentian Family at the U.N. | 2 comments

Promoting youth labor skills is the topic of this week’s post by Sr. Margaret O’Dwyer, DC, from the United Nations.

vincentian-family-UN-facebookNo doubt our Vincentian Family members engaged in personnel, education, or youth-related ministries understand we are experiencing “vertical change.” The job market for youth, in particular, is transforming. To find decent employment, young people must have a smorgasbord of skill sets, competencies, and character qualities different and often exceeding those their elders needed. The UN’s World Youth Skills Day celebrated tomorrow (July 15), at UN Headquarters in New York, will focus on skills development to improve youth employment.

A panel discussion tomorrow will review how a changing labor market impacts skills youth need to succeed; the type of technical and vocation training that works in improving youth employment; and the importance of investing in skills development for youth. This event will be facilitated by the UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, and will feature opening remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. You can follow the event on social media with #YouthSkills and #WYSD2016.

Youth skills

Credit: U.N. Youth

Youth Unemployment Statistics

As we examine where our “boldness of charity” leads us today, we may want to consider the rapidly morphing job world and equipping youth with skills and character qualities to prepare for it. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), over 73 million of the world’s 200 million unemployed are young people (ages 15-24). Over 40 per cent of the world’s youth are either unemployed or have a job but live in poverty. The Middle East and North Africa reflect youth unemployment rates of nearly 30 percent. Youth unemployment is above 20 per cent in Europe. One in three young workers lives on less than $2 a day.

Job World Constantly Changing

In her book, Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century (Penguin, 2013), author Cathy N. Davidson predicted that 65% of grade school entrants will work in jobs that don’t currently exist. No wonder young job seekers are feeling challenged!
World Youth Skills DayThere is much more to be done in terms of boosting labor demand so that skilled and educated youth experience a smooth transition into the labor market, the ILO states. Think about it—an exponential use of technology, global markets, greener economies, informational abundance, mobility trends, and requirements for innovation are rapidly changing the types of jobs available and skills needed to acquire them. With slow job growth in many places, there is a higher demand for creativity and entrepreneurship. Many youth also wish to be engaged in socially responsible initiatives.

Skills Youth Need for Today’s Job World

A March, 2016 report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) reflects that today’s students cannot thrive on traditional academic learning alone. “They must be adept at collaboration, communication and problem-solving, which are some of the skills developed through social and emotional learning (SEL),” the report reflects. “Coupled with mastery of traditional skills, social and emotional proficiency will equip students to succeed in the swiftly evolving digital economy.” (World Economic Forum Report: New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology; March, 2016, at page 4).
The 2016 WEF Report followed on a prior one (New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology, 2015), which focused on technology. In that report, the WEF named 16 required skills for the 21st Century. Those skills include six “foundational literacies”—literacy (as we have known it), as well as literacy in numeracy, science, ICT, finance, culture and civil matters. Four competencies mentioned were critical thinking/problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration. Six character competencies were highlighted—curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership, and social and cultural awareness.

Global Initiative Launched

In response to the needs of unemployed young people, the UN launched a Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth in February, 2016. It is the first-ever, comprehensive United Nations system-wide effort for the promotion of youth employment worldwide.

Consistency with Sustainable Development Goals

The UN’s focus on youth employment skills is in keeping with Target 4.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals. That target calls for a substantial increase in the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills.  The United Nations declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day at its General Assembly in November 2014. Last year, it was honored for the first time.


To learn more about youth employment databases, check out: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/youth-employment/databases-platforms/lang–en/index.htm


  1. Sister Honora Remes

    Thank you, our Sister Margaret, for this deeply researched article on a prospective of how the future of our youth isi unfolding in the job market. Overwhelming. What I especially noticed is that the character qualities sited in the WEF report as required for the future actually lacked two that seem especially necessary in our United States culture: integrity and compassion.

    • Sister Honora Remes

      Thank you, Sister, Margaret, for this deeply researched article projecting how the future of our youth will unfold in the job market. Overwhelming. What I especially noticed is this: the character qualities sited in the WEF report, i.e. those projected as required for the future –lacked two that seem especially necessary in our US culture: INTEGRITY AND COMPASSION.