‘World Youth Skills Day 2018’ celebrated at the UN Headquarters in New York
The ‘World Youth Skills Day 2018’ was celebrated for the fourth consecutive year on 16th July 2018 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal to the UN in New York in partnership with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, ILO and UNESCO. The event was attended by over 120 participants representing Member States of the UN, UN agencies, youth and civil societies.
On 18 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus, resolution, A/RES/69/145, titled ‘World Youth Skills Day’ spearheaded by Sri Lanka, declaring 15th July as the World Youth Skills Day. Since then, this has been an annual event celebrated at the UN. This year’s event was held under the theme ‘Sustainability and Innovation’ and was co-chaired by Permanent Representatives Rohan Perera of Sri Lanka and Francisco António Duarte Lopes of Portugal. The event explored how the issues of exponential technological change and skills development are interrelated and the actions need to be taken to empower youth to become drivers of a sustainable future.
Permanent Representative Rohan Perera of Sri Lanka in his opening remarks highlighted the pros and cons of an increasingly digital world with technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing and big data changing the way people consume, live and work. He highlighted that the challenge is to harness the positives of technological advancement, while minimizing the negative of technological unemployment or underemployment. His full remarks can be found below.
Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly who delivered the keynote address at the Opening Session of the event noted that youth of today face many new challenges unlike previous generations and that the quality of education available to most youth did not respond to current world trends. He stressed on the importance of including young people in making and implementing policies and investing more in skills and education.
Karunarathna Paranawithana, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development & Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage while delivering his address as the Guest Speaker, stated that Sri Lanka places great importance in developing its young people by imparting employable skills through Technical Vocational Education and Training as a key in the economic and social development strategy of the country. He outlined the many policies and programmes that Sri Lanka had formulated and implemented to promote youth skills development at the national level.
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and Marie Paule Roudil, Director-UNESCO also delivered remarks at the Opening Session.
The Interactive Panel Discussion, featuring panelists from civil society, private sector, education & business sectors and youth was followed by a vibrant exchange of views with participants. The World Youth Skills Day 2018, brought together the voices of Member States of the UN, the UN system, private sector, academia, civil society and youth organizations to discuss how to leverage innovation an demerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data and machine learning to boost youth employment and implications in skills needs and skills development systems.
From Left to Right (front row): Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Hon. Karunarathna Paranawithana, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development 7 & Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage; Dr. Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York; Mr. Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN in New York; Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General ILO; Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Director UNESCO
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN
17 July 2018
Statement by H.E Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN at the ‘World Youth Skills Day’ 2018
16 July 2018 | 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m
“Youth Skills for Sustainability and Innovation”
Distinguished Co-Chair, Ambassador Duarte Lopes, PR of Portugal,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to the ‘World Youth Skills Day 2018’ event, which is being held at the United Nations for the fourth consecutive year.
At the outset, I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the co-hosts of this event, the Permanent Mission of Portugal, UNESCO, ILO, and the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth for their tremendous support in organizing this event.
It gives me pleasure to introduce the distinguished guests we have today, for the Opening Session of this event, representing these institutions: my good friend, colleague and co-chair for this Session, Ambassador Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations, Mr. Guy Ryder, Director- General of the ILO, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and Ms. Marie Paul Roudil, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office New York.
We are extremely pleased that H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, President of the General Assembly, will be joining us in a little while, as the keynote speaker. I also wish to introduce our Guest Speaker for this Session, Hon. Karunarathna Paranawithana, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development & Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage of Sri Lanka.
Four years ago, Sri Lanka together with Portugal and the other co-sponsoring Member States, spearheaded the General Assembly resolution for establishing July 15th as the “World Youth Skills Day”, acknowledging the imperative need for bridging the youth skills gap and tackling the issue of youth unemployment and underemployment.
Since the adoption of this resolution in 2014, we have celebrated the World Youth Skills Day as an annual event. Today, the World Youth Skills Day has become a pivotal event for youth, celebrated both at the UN headquarters and around the globe. It is heartening to note the growing significance of this universally recognized UN day in drawing attention of the world to the importance of youth skills development.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s generation of young people live in a world where nearly half of today’s jobs globally—around 2 billion—are at risk of becoming obsolete in the coming decades due to automation and exponential technological advancement. As such, I believe, that this year’s World Youth Skills Day is held under an extremely important and appropriate theme: “Youth Skills for Sustainability and Innovation”. It is evident that in an increasingly digital world, technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, and big data are set to change the way that people consume, produce, live and work. The World Bank estimates that 4 out of 5 children entering primary school today will eventually hold jobs that do not currently exist. These fast-changing realities leave ripple effects on communities worldwide, with the most significant impact being on young people.
You would agree that in the absence of efficient transition policies, including sufficient opportunities to acquire new and relevant skills, many young people will face significant challenges, including being forced to accept lower-skilled and lower-paying jobs. In addition, there are disparities in resources, levels of development, financing and the gender gap.
Nevertheless, it must also be recognized that new technology allows a renewed lens for viewing and addressing the challenges that we face as a global society. Artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies can assist global efforts to address poverty, hunger, education, healthcare and the protection of our environment. This has been recognized by countries around the world and by the United Nations. Digitalization can have a positive impact on the innovation strength of developing countries. We must work to engage young people in these efforts and proactively ensure their involvement in the effective harnessing of technology to improve the quality and sustainability of life on our planet. The challenge is to harness the positives of technological advancement, while minimizing the negative of technological unemployment or underemployment.
The issue of youth skills development is one that is of critical importance for Sri Lanka, and one that Sri Lanka prioritizes in its national policy framework, with a dedicated Ministry for “Skills Development and Vocational Training”. The Deputy Minister for Skills Development and Vocational Training who has traveled from Sri Lanka to attend this event will elaborate on these programs and initiatives later in the session.
We will also hear from a very distinguished and knowledgeable panel of experts drawn from the private sector, civil society and academia during the interactive panel discussion which will follow, the Opening Session. I am sure this discussion will provide much useful insights on this topic.