World Youth Skills day is celebrated annually on the 15th of July since 2014 when the United Nations General Assembly first designated it. Covid-19 has ensured that 2020 and 20212 have been very unusual years where traditional skill-sets have been turned upside down with some skills becoming redundant, others changing in scope and definition while new skills have emerged.
The following data collected during the pandemic period indicates the challenging times that young people face:-
- Schools were either fully or partially closed for more than 30 weeks between March 2020 and May 2021 in half the countries of the world. In late June, 19 countries still had full school closures, affecting nearly 157 million learners. And 768 million more learners were affected by partial school closures.(UNESCO)
- Respondents to a survey of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions jointly collected by UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank reported that distance training had become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties regarding, among others, curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.
- ILO estimates show that globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults, with the most pronounced fall seen in middle-income countries. The consequences of this disruption to the early labour market experiences of youth could last for years.
This year’s theme is “Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic” This is a Call to Action to equip the youth appropriately for the new realities. Creativity will play a big part in achieving this; Training institutions will have to align their courses with the emergent skill-sets; the youth will need to learn, unlearn and relearn in order to adapt to the new realities in the workplace and markets; Employers will need to align their work processes and recruitment procedures to reflect the new realities. It is a time for change so that collectively, we can overcome the negative effects caused by Covid-19.
Kenya and many other African countries have a youth bulge currently where the youth are the majority of the national populations. This is a blessing if addressed appropriately since the youth have energy, creativity and are flexible enough to respond to change. This approach boosts the national economies and ensures that countries are stable in every sense of the word. If not properly handled, this youth bulge will prove to be detrimental since the unused energy and creativity of the youth will be directed towards anti-social and criminal activities as the youth seek a way to survive in a harsh environment.
Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) is aware of the challenges faced by the youth and is aligning itself to cope with the new realities. In recognition of the important part that technical skills play, AfCiC sponsors youth to undertake technical courses that are the foundation of any economic structure. In addition, AfCiC has embraced technology to train youth on relevant technical, art and soft skills so as to protect against possible Covid-19 infection.
E.M. is a beneficiary of the AfCiC Technical Skills Training Programme. (Initials have been used to protect identity of the beneficiary.)
“I started schooling at Baraka za Ibrahim Primary School in Kibera, Nairobi County. I was able to join the secondary level section of the same school in 2017. Unfortunately my secondary school scholarship was terminated by my sponsor for unknown reasons. This forced me to drop out of school. However, AfCiC gave me another chance to rebuild my life by enrolling me to a vocational training centre to study plumbing .I am grateful for the scholarship and the support from AfCiC. Thank you for believing in the youth and their skills.”
Young people are a vital segment of the population in any given society. Contrary to common perception that “the youth are the future,” they are also the present.