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Reimagining Youth Employment and Skilling Solutions (First Runner-Up)

The energetic age grouped people between ages of 15-24 can be collectively defined as “Youth”.
This age group covers about 1.1 billion population globally, which is 18% of the total
population. Similarly, South Asia is home to the largest youth population in the world, with
almost half of its population of 1.8 billion. Thus, we can conclude that young people are the
arrows of the future of any nation.

Even though the literacy rate of South Asia seems to be increasing annually, it still remains in the
shade of development, both educationally and economically. It has been estimated that 54%
South Asian youths leave schooling, according to the Global Business Coalition for Education
(GBC-Education), Education Commission, and UNICEF in the survey of 29 Oct 2019. The estimated
skill gap in South Asia is 15.01% as per World Bank Enterprise Survey. Unemployment rate of
South Asia in 2019 was 5.11%, which was increased by 0.05% from 2018. Due to unprecedented
global COVID-19 crisis full-time job loss in 1st and 2nd quarter of 2020 are 21 million and 110
million respectively in South Asia according to International Labor Organization (ILO). These
evolving dynamics have placed the future of South Asian youths at the crossroads.

Now, what we need is a completely new paradigm for youth to reduce skill gaps. A combined
solution from young people, private sectors, civil society, and government. The sequences of
measures need to facilitate a transition from temporary crisis response to longer-term poverty
reduction, a bridge between education and skilling as well as labor market inclusion strategies. Some of the major solutions are listed below:

1. Engage youth in policy development and social dialogue

Youth should be meaningfully engaged in shaping effective measures to mitigate the
negative effects of the skill gap and support economic and employment recovery. Strengthening
social dialogue among government, employers along young representatives are important
to think critically about skill gap. Social dialogue can facilitate the design of credible,
effective, and well-contextualized solutions informed by in-depth knowledge of vulnerable
young workers and entrepreneurs.

2. Target support to sectors with the highest potential

Job-rich recovery sectors should be targeted which includes a combination of the digital
economy and green economy. Promotion of sustainable agriculture, as well as IT sectors, can
offer employment pathways for young people. They are likely to gain skills easily in these
sectors, so it helps greatly to make them employed.

3. Designing well-targeted active labor market programs

A range of youth-targeted and gender-responsive ALMPs is needed to ensure that recovery-oriented job creation and employment opportunities.

4. Supporting youth in a job search

Young people can be accessed to find relevant information about employment opportunities,
matching their skills. Financial support can also be given during the job search period.
Proper guidance to young job seekers can help a lot in finding the right job.

5. Expand youth access to training, reskilling and upskilling

Education and training policies play a crucial role in equipping young job seekers with the
skills needed in any kind of job. Education, training policies, and systems should respond well
to labor market demand in growth sectors and occupations to ensure future recovery.
Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) should be expanded. During this
pandemic, expanding digital infrastructure and access will be of great help to further transform
labor market prospects. An inclusive approach to digitalization is required to address the
underlying inequalities to access digital infrastructures and technologies.

6. Invest in youth entrepreneurship

Youth entrepreneurship is a space for productivity and self-fulfillment. Self-employment
helps young people to gain independence and earn a livelihood. Dedicated support to young
female entrepreneurs will help to address the gender-specific barriers to entrepreneurship. On
top of that, it creates employment opportunities for other youths with different categories of

7. Prioritize support to vulnerable youth

Priority should be given to young people living in conditions of moderate or extreme
poverty. An acceleration of policy responses is needed to tackle gender gaps in education and
employment, ease occupational segregation, and promote the value of unpaid care work.
Policies and programs should also encompass other excluded groups, including young people
with disabilities, young migrants, and those in rural and conflict-affected areas.

8. Practical classes and field survey in the institutions

Each and every institution should include field works in its curriculum. Students should
be able to apply their knowledge in their respective fields. It not only helps them to know
more about their subject but also be ready for their future work.

9. Right jobs for the right person

We should stop the tradition of favoritism and nepotism followed by corruption. Only those
who are eligible for the job should be given the chance. Thousands and thousands of well-skilled and educated people are either unemployed or engaged in the field totally out of their

As Mike Rowe says, “Skill gap is the reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to
change the way the country feels about work”. Change in education system along with country’s
specific skill development strategy is needed. I believe, South Asia can put itself in the spotlight
by empowering youth if the above-mentioned solutions are taken into action. Young people
should be put forward to interact in various training and seminars conducted at different levels.
Programs should be conducted under SAARC, highlighting the common objectives and goals
regarding youth empowerment. With the support provided by observers of SAARC which
includes Australia, China, the European Union, and the United States, South Asian economic
sector can be upgraded. Let’s take action for a better tomorrow. Let’s be the generation that
creates history. After all, we are the change we seek!

Prasamsha Thapa