A Conference to mark the first ever World Youth skills Day was held today (15 July 2015) at the UN headquarters in New York. The event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal. UNESCO, ILO, and Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth also supported the efforts of the two missions in convening this event.
The outcome document of the Colombo declaration, resolution A/C.3/69/L.13/Rev.1, adopted in November 2014, declared 15 of July as a day dedicated to the development of youth skills. The day was established with Sri Lanka taking a lead role in heeding the calls of youth, who gathered from all over the world, in Colombo Sri Lanka in May 2014, to participate in the World Conference on Youth.
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, Dr. Rohan Perera, speaking to a packed room, highlighted the importance not only of focusing on the skills gap leading to unemployment, but also urged member states and stakeholders to take a holistic view that included life skills and employable skills. He said that strengthening skills of youth was a solution identified by youth in addressing the social and employment crisis the world is facing today. Ambassador Perera noted the number of 15 to 24 year olds had reached 1.2 billion in 2014 represents a sixth of the world’s total population. He stressed that addressing the needs of the youth is not something that we could afford to ignore any longer.
Secretary General’s envoy on youth, Mr. Ahmed Alhendawi addressed the gathering via video and Ambassador Álvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal made a brief statement on behalf of the ‘Friends of Youth’ group in the UN.
H.E. Ms. María Cristina Perceval, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations and acting President of the General Assembly, Ms. Jane Steward, Director of ILO New York Office and Mr. Mr Jorge Segueira, Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Education for Latin America and the Caribbean also spoke.
A robust and thoughtful interactive dialogue followed, with the participation of representatives from UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Bank, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, AIESEC, several young entrepreneurs, youth coalitions and advocacy groups and NGOs.
The event was also telecast live to a conference of youth in Bonn, Germany, organized by UNESCO-UNEVOC, the United Nations specialized agency for technical and vocational education and training.
A similar event to mark the day was held in Addis Ababa, on the side lines of the Financing for Development discussions. Organized by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and co-organized in partnership with ILO and UNESCO. This high level event focused on the importance of investing in the skills development for today’s largest generation of youth, by financing skills sector development programs, ensuring inclusive global youth employment strategies at all levels, ensuring quality labor markets, equality and accessibility to decent jobs.