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Reimagining Youth Employment and Skilling Solutions ( Winner)

As of 2020, we are meeting at a time where the world has been stirred up as a hornets’ nest of extensive stumbling blocks towards a promising tomorrow. This particular year came to us with immense hardships and grief. We have come to a third world war. To a war without armed forces and no human control. Novel Covid 19 surged into our lives having no mercy or exception for anyone. The global economy had been driven into a recession. Billions of people continue to live in poverty while millions were dying of hunger. Inequalities had aroused significantly and the discrepancy between demand and supply of skills are expected to rise in keeping with projections. Estimations reveal that the world economy is not far from running short of 80 million workers with a tertiary and secondary education in less developed countries at a universal rate. Meanwhile, there is a surplus of 95 million workers with insufficient skills in the labour market. Today, young people find it more and more exasperating to find a stable job than ever before. The challenges are outnumbering and vary from person to person. The growing inequality rooted by unemployment have created a severe sense of indignation and injustice. Even if we take some time out to update skills of a small proportion of lowly skilled workers, it would immensely improve the state of the economy and its people.

As I read the title; ‘Reimagining Youth Employment and Skilling Solutions’, I cannot help but think about my many classmates who are forced to kill their talents in pursuit tutoring and achieving straight A’s, who are taught to understand intellectual abilities as a compilation of grades, mandatory examinations and academic performance. Globally, we are locked into a mindset of comprehending white collar jobs as better than manual professions. However, taking a more open-ended frame of mind towards education can help complete the employment puzzle. Education for changing labour market needs to be flexible and more demand driven in order to enable youth to learn without restrictions. Bridging the skills gap through targeting the skills of groups in education and training in accordance to market demands can have a tremendous impact on the current situation. This solution is inclusive of creating new and specific learning paths, stimulation campaigns to encourage people to choose paths in order to fill the ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies. This would indisputably, alleviated youth unemployment and skills gap significantly.

As the unemployment rate continue to increase, how can the businesses and government address this crisis? Businesses is one of the key factors effecting the rate of unemployment while it is also perfectly positioned to provide unemployed with the right set of skills to be more employable. Incentivization of businesses to offer job training and apprenticeship programs by re-thinking the expenditure on unemployment benefits can be a game changer. This would enable businesses to fill in the jobs which there is less supply of workers while also employing those who are need for work to earn their bread. This could also be done at low cost by development of e-learning, training and online job interviews by businesses in this interconnected world would not only increase the employability of a person, but also widen the scope of employment worldwide instead of limiting it to a particular region. This would require a collaborative motion to vocational training, education system and development of skill in institution such as schools, universities and businesses.

Strengthening connections between employers and educators can boost up the business ecosystem and give rise to more innovative ideas while also assisting companies to find skilled labour. As businesses are revising and redesigning their work at a fast rate, educators are finding it difficult to adjust correspondingly. This problem could be solved by collective effort of both educative and business institutions through better communication regarding the demand and supply of specified areas in the labour market. Together, they can work to come up with sustainable solutions by evaluating data and provide training courses which could be a driver to upskill and reskill the youth. It is plain as pikestaff that such combined efforts if in action, can greatly reduce the number of people who have to go a day without food.

For what I know, facing and also implementing progressive solutions is not a one man’s job. As a global citizen, I believe it is our responsibility to seek education and practice self-learning so as to make ourselves more employable as we cannot always depend on some other person to live. The fundamentals of a better future lie within the youth. It lies within the upcoming generation. Within education. It is my unwavering credence, to build a better future it is our knowledge that emphasizes the decision-making power that we have, and the significance of taking action on our own. However, more importantly than, I believe in having positive intentions to decide and act for ourselves. That, I think, is the groundwork of everything. Although it seems like an eminently difficult mission to accomplish, that is how I would like to be.

Aminath Althaf Shaheen