Written by Anna Oposa, Youth Researcher
What can policymakers do to provide young people with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven world? How can young people themselves play a bigger role in skills development?
These were some of the hot topic issues examined at ADB’s 3rd Annual International Skills Development Forum held in Manila from 10-12 December, 2013.
This year’s forum focused on youth and technology, with a first ever Youth Day: Skills Development for the iGen event held prior to the official opening. It discussed policies and practices which could encourage young people to become more active in developing skills needed to find work in an increasingly competitive job market. It also explored not only how policy makers and training institutions can support youth, but how the young themselves can take a more proactive role in working with government and the private sector.
Over 40 youth delegates from 10 countries attended the forum, where they raised concerns about some of the most pressing issues young people face in trying to enter and succeed in the modern workforce. These included the ‘Catch 22’ of needing experience for jobs but needing jobs for experience; the importance of treating interns with respect and not as cheap labor; and unequal opportunities for rural and urban youth, for men and women, and for disadvantaged or marginalized groups.
They also brought up the need to provide financial management and literacy training for youth.
On the final day, a youth delegate presented recommendations on how young people could have a greater say in skills development and employment opportunities:
- Develop and encourage extra-curricular activities and youth-inspired opportunities which enable youth to practice life skills and leadership.
- Participate and execute peer-to-peer mentorships for personal growth and career guidance.
- Organize youth-friendly job fairs, especially on green and ICT-based jobs.
- Patronize and promote youth-led enterprises.
- Organize and execute a youth-led dialogue which brings together youth, government, and private sector to talk about issues on employment.
Technology for Social Good
The forum also looked at the dramatic impact of technology in people’s lives. Rapid innovations in technology have fundamentally altered the economy and changed the landscape for education and skills development. There are now digital and mobile technologies which enable learning in and out of classrooms through mobile apps, websites, e-books, and games.
Panelists from private institutions and government agencies made presentations on some of the projects and programs which are being used to harness the power of technology to teach and to learn. Many representatives discussed how social media has become a powerful tool in sparking social change.
The potential that technology offers is exciting and it will play an even bigger role in the coming years, not just in education but also in providing new employment opportunities.
As with most forums, it is difficult to measure the exact impact. But a platform in which young people were able to discuss these key issues with powerful and influential global institutions opens up a world of potential opportunities that may not have been possible without the interaction.
John Trew of Plan International provided food for thought on the last day by issuing a challenge to each participant to come up with a way of doing things differently on skills and employment, and then to carry it out. “It doesn’t have to be big (change),” he reassured audience members.
If each of the 200 participants made just one small adjustment in their daily routines, such as seeking out and talking to young people about jobs and skills, it would be a big step forward in the right direction.