15 Jul 2019 Story Sustainable Development Goals

Let’s invent the future this Youth Skills Day!

Today is Youth Skills Day. There are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years in the world, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population.

Engaging young people in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And, to averting the worst threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict and migration. 

Whether acquired through formal education, on-the-job training or other means of learning new skills to prepare for the job market, young people often find a challenge in preparing for the world of work.  

The Young Champions of the Earth Prize is an opportunity for 18 to 30-year-old entrepreneurs to outline a big idea to solve an environmental problem. The winners receive tailor-made training in bringing their idea to life and communicating their progress.

But everyone who applied is welcomed into the changemaker community: and now we want to hear from changemakers around the world.  This Youth Skills Day, we would like to ask for five minutes of your time to take this survey.

What skills are missing in the youth space today? Photo by Sasin Tipchai / Pixabay

What skills are missing in today’s youth space? What would equip young people more effectively for the job market, or entrepreneurial pursuit?  

Laetitia Zobel, UN Environment Civil Society Unit also working with youth, said: 

“The private sector and industry could assist in providing the relevant qualifications needed for the growing green job markets, in collaboration with technical and vocational training centers—private, government and faith-oriented. These will assist young people in joining the job market as hands-on professionals who benefit the industry through applied skills.”

Young people are also driving change towards more sustainable lifestyles, healthier living, consumption and production: “To produce less waste, avoid plastic, reduce meat consumption and even go vegan,” she added. 

Moustapha Kamal Gueye, Head of the International Labour Organization’s Green Jobs Programme, said:

“It’s important for young people to have foundational skills and transferable skills that can be applied in various fields and practices. Education systems tend to be theoretical, and young people don’t have sufficient opportunities for practice, linking what they learn with the realities in the world of work.”

Globally, opportunities to tackle air pollution, the renewable energy sector and advances in information and communication technology will become more prevalent, creating opportunities for millions of new jobs in the green economy, he said.

Young people need transferable skills that can be applied in various fields and practices. Photo by Ian Ingalula / Pixabay.

“Youth today in the digital age can combine their information and communication technology skills with demand for new ways of farming, energy supply or fighting air pollution for example,” Moustapha said.

Education is still fundamental for acquiring new skills, he added, and not everyone is built to be an entrepreneur. “Young people must define their vision and prepare to become entrepreneurs by design and not default,” he said.

Countries can address the skills gap in the design of their education and training systems, with a focus on technical and vocational skills, Moustapha noted. He emphasized lifelong learning, as a key difference from traditional education and training systems, as skills required today may become obsolete for tomorrow’s jobs.

Today’s youth must be more prepared than ever for today’s job market—and able to take advantage of new opportunities in the green job sector. Help us gauge what skills are currently missing, so we can help design materials that can support your journey. Take the survey here.

The Young Champions of the Earth Prize, powered by Covestro, is UN Environment's leading initiative to engage youth in tackling the world's most pressing environmental challenges.