World Youth Skill Day: how can we help the youth build work skills

Since 2014, 15 July marks the World Youth Skills Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the importance of equipping young people with the skills to engage in the world of work and entrepreneurship; The theme of this year is: "Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development".

This year's celebration of World Youth Skills Day focuses on the efforts made to address the socio-economic recovery that our society has experienced since the COVID-19 crisis. Inequality in education, exponential technological development, poverty. These issues did not emerge with the pandemic but were exacerbated by it, and young people have been heavily impacted, both in their education and in their entry into the world of work.

One of the relevant questions to ask is whether the education that young people are currently receiving is relevant and in line with the world of tomorrow. Although many young people graduate and complete their studies successfully, many are faced with job opportunities that do not match their qualifications. In an ever-changing world, it is important to understand its codes and to keep abreast of the new technologies and changes that structure our society.

However, how can we help them to succeed?

Young people continue to share their concerns about the state of their future. These concerns are ecological, economic, and social. They feel that they are not adequately armed to face their future and confide that the authorities do not seem to hear the alarm bells they are ringing.

The help we need to give them must be holistic; considering the socio-economic situation of the young person is crucial. Poverty can be a barrier to education, gender can be an obstacle to education, not to mention the environmental consequence. It is therefore essential to identify where the young person is and how we can help them.

The recent Recovering Learning report, jointly published by UNICEF and the Education Commission, emphasises the need to improve the monitoring of progress in skills development, particularly in light of the global priority of restoring education in response to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

A bridge between schools and ministries of education

As a non-profit organisation working in the field of education, developing the skills of young people and teachers is a top priority for European Schoolnet. With the help of its network of 34 Ministries of Education, the organisation is fully committed to strengthening the exchange between school communities and policymakers to bring innovation in teaching and learning and facilitate access to digital resources.

Projects and studies that make sense in the digital age

The Path to the Digital Decade must be a joint effort. European Schoolnet, with the support of the European Commission, has set up several projects to help citizens, including young people, cultivate their digital literacy. The jobs of the future require increased knowledge of new technologies and media literacy.

Being a Millennial or Gen Z does not make someone an expert in technology. Developing digital literacy is an asset for a young person's career development and it is also a winning ticket to getting a quality job. Through the projects "Digital Skills and Jobs platform", it is possible to gain basic knowledge of emerging technologies. Get full access to online training and learning content on topics like AI, Blockchain, robotics and many more!

Digital skills are on the one hand very important for developing young people's future, but the internet also has an influence on young people's mental health and social life. It is important to understand the harmful aspects to protect young people online. Since the pandemic, teaching and learning habits have changed. Almost everything has moved online. Young people are therefore exposed to several dangers when learning online: cyberbullying, fake news, online scams, and hypersexualised content. All of these can be a barrier to the development of their digital skills.

Projects such as Better Internet for Kids – and its youth participation strand BIK Youth, allowing young people to express their views on the use of online technologies - or ySKILLS aim to better understand how children and young people can best develop resilience to negative impacts. These projects implement access to quality content for children and young people, raise awareness and create a safe environment. Overall, the mission is to foster the exchange of knowledge, expertise, resources, and best practices between key stakeholders: policymakers, parents and the school community.

Helping young people integrate into the world of work and develop their skills to adapt to a changing society requires the help of all. We must listen to their needs and propose initiatives that consider their economic and social reality. Labour markets are tightening and our dependence on new technologies is increasing. "We need to meet the demand by developing technologically literate people who can make the most of the potential that technology has to offer, and by developing the next generation of technologically literate people who are about to become the new digital workforce".