Yes, Youth Skill Development Can Boost Job Opportunities
Like every year on July 15th, the World Youth Skills Day comes as a special occasion for youth to highlight how important it is for young women and men to have the relevant skills that can guarantee them employment and a career.
At age 23, Mohammad Issa seems to have figured it all out.
Mohammad is a young entrepreneur from Saida, Lebanon. He is the founder of Inveeno, a startup that designs and develops smart hardware and software kits that allow people to use and make technology and electronic projects.
As a member of the NET-MED Youth working group in Lebanon, Mohammad was a panel speaker in the World Youth Skills Day 2016 organized by UNESCO-UNEVOC at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany. The event, which gathered 50 youth and different stakeholders, coincided with the launch of the new UNESCO Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for 2016-2021.
“The panel I was part of was moderated by Anke Rasper Senior Editor at DW, and was made up of three youth and three professionals. We decided with Anke that our panel discussion should be engaging and should focus on our experiences so that we can inspire youth all over the world,” says Mohammad.
Under the banner of “Inspiring and Empowering Youth Through Skills Development,” discussions shed the light on the successful careers of youth who benefited from TVET, the challenges and opportunities for youth in technical and vocational fields, and the necessity to improve skills to better respond to the job market requirements.
NET-MED Youth National Project Officer in Lebanon, Mona El Zoghbi, took part in the event, too. For her, a key ingredient to the effective integration of youth in the job market is the active participation of youth in policy debates.
“Since the very first priority area of the new UNESCO TVET Strategy directly concerns youth, it is crucial that young people have a say in the development of its action plan,” she says. “It is excellent that this event is an open and authentic space where youth voices are present and where stakeholders are diverse (professionals, high-level UN and government delegates, key private sector partners, youth) – which made for rich discussions.”
The strong presence of youth like Mohammad seems to have invigorated the debates.
“This conference showcased so many brilliant initiatives of youth in TVET and I think it is important to carry this entrepreneurial spirit back to Lebanon, to share these good practices with the TVET community there and to revive, through our NET-MED Youth project, young people's interest, engagement and leadership in this field,” says Mona.
The new TVET strategy is clearly judicious. It gives prominence to youth employment and entrepreneurship as a key priority area, along with equity and gender equality and transition to green economies and sustainable societies. And that makes it fully aligned with the new Sustainable Development Agenda and its goal on Education. It also makes it aligned with one of the main focus areas of NET-MED Youth: Employment and skills development.
“Just the fact of being a young man representing NET-MED Youth and being part of the launch of the new TVET strategy is surely a big thing for me,” says Mohammad. “It’s just great to see how UNESCO is getting us, youth, involved in the decision-making processes and these type of events.”
Amidst the array of topics that engaged youth and professionals in the discussions came up again the eternal question of whether or not university education provides suitable and sufficient skills for youth to ease into the job market.
“I personally think it is very important to develop the skills of youth, especially at the early stages; because this will significantly increase youth employment rate,” says Mohammad. With conviction, he confides that “TVET should be a core point in developing skills for youth employment since there are a lot of opportunities particularly in the ICT field where one does not necessarily need a university degree.”
The 23-year-old entrepreneur now sees his participation in this event as yet another opportunity to grow and to give back to his community.
“The whole experience I gained by being part of the World Youth Skills Day 2016 conference is another big turning point in my life,” says Mohammad.
Mohammad could not hide his excitement nor that spark of passion for what he does and how he wants to do more.
“I’m ready to inspire more youth to have a part in the development of their skills. I have many ideas in my mind that I want to implement in my community and make a big change.”
Mohammad Issa is a member of Innovation Club in Lebanon, a youth organization part of NET-MED Youth.
NET-MED Youth works on the anticipation of future skills needs and on the guidance of relevant development and employment policies in different countries across the Mediterranean region.
Photo credits: UNESCO-UNEVOC
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.