Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labor market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. In addition, women are more likely to be underemployed and under-paid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.
One reason for youth unemployment is structural unemployment, a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer and the skills demanded of workers by employers. Structural unemployment affects all regions around the world and it impacts not only economies but also hampers the transition to equitable and inclusive societies envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Skills development is a primary means of enabling young people to make a smooth transition to work. Skills and jobs for youth feature 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.
In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 15th July as World Youth Skills Day. The goal is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth as a means of addressing the challenges of unemployment and under employment.
The theme for 2020 World Youth Skills Day is "Skills for a Resilient Youth".
World Youth Skills Day 2020 will take place in a challenging context. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have led to the worldwide closure of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, threatening the continuity of skills development.
It is estimated that nearly 70% of the world’s learners are affected by school closures across education levels currently. Respondents to a survey of TVET institutions, jointly collected by UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank, reported that distance training has become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties regarding, among others, curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.
Prior to the current crisis, young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and often faced a prolonged school-to-work transition period. In post-COVID-19 societies, as young people are called upon to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience to adapt to future disruptions.
Education and training are central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. The vision of the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 is fully captured by Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Education 2030 devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); the acquisition of technical and vocational skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship; the elimination of gender disparity and ensuring access for the vulnerable. In this context, TVET is expected to address the multiple demands of an economic, social and environmental nature by helping youth and adults develop the skills they need for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship, promoting equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and supporting transitions to green economies and environmental sustainability.
TVET can equip youth with the skills required to access the world of work, including skills for self-employment. TVET can also improve responsiveness to changing skill-demands by companies and communities, increase productivity and increase wage levels. TVET can reduce access barriers to the world of work, for example through work-based learning, and ensuring that skills gained are recognised and certified. TVET can also offer skills development opportunities for low-skilled people who are under- or unemployed, out of school youth and individuals not in education, employment and training (NEETs).