The year 2019 is the fifth year of the celebration of World Youth Skills Day.
Today is July 15 and this day is dedicated to ‘youth skills’ all over the world known as World Youth Skills Day. The aim of World Youth Skills Day is to encourage youth to celebrate the power of knowledge, skills, and training acquired for personal success and fulfillment to make valuable contributions to family, community, nation and of course to global society.
A UN resolution to establish a World Youth Skills Day was adopted by the General Assembly on December 18, 2014, and thus spearheaded by Sri Lanka — the developing country from South Asia with the support of all the developing countries popularly known as G-77 and China. The UN General Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus to finally declare 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. The day highlights the importance of youth skills development at a global level. The goal is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth and find out ways and means to address the challenges of unemployment and underemployment particularly in developing and least developed countries.
The year 2019 is the fifth year of the celebration of World Youth Skills Day. It is a week-long celebration currently going on at the New York headquarters of UN in which exhibitions and discussions are being held at the United Nations High-level Political Forum. There are around 1.5 billion youth aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for not less than 16% of the current global population. The youth worldwide in this age group begin to understand the world they have been exposed to and which they inherit from their seniors. They are in their prime age to advance their skills and education at both technical/practical and theoretical level to plunge into the pool of workforce to be engaged in economic activities in different economic sectors.
The prospect of employment and entrepreneurship in developing countries and least developed countries is not very rosy. Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labor market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions in these countries. The scenario for women is all the more depressing as they are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts compared to men. The young people in the above age group will continue to face the worst threats and challenges due to climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, and migration as we are witnessing for quite some time now.
The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has come out with unique plan this year and encouraged the youth all over the world to develop selfie style videos that outline how their life has changed by learning a skill. It also supports UNESCO’s theme “Learning to learn for life and work” for the day 15 July this year-2019. Video Campaign is on all the social media channels where youth who have undergone skill training of any kind will share a one-minute video to explain what motivated them to learn a skill, what they learned about themselves in the process, and how they continue to master other skills every day.
The broader idea is that it will encourage millions of young people to acquire skills and continue to do it in rest of their life as saying goes learning never ends and it starts from womb and lasts only when one reaches the tomb. UNESCO is standing by the side of youth urging them to tag any videos or images posted on their social media with #WYSD2019 to connect to the larger campaign at the global level to make it real global network. The youth of the world stand up and rise to master as many skills as you can to make a difference in your life and in the life of others.
What is a skill? Does it relate to education in a formal setting such as school and colleges? There is no single definition of “skills.” Many countries define “skills” as occupational skills and/or level of educational attainment. There is no single methodology to check the level of skill in individual either. European Union member States prefer to go for a holistic approach: a combination of qualitative analysis (e.g. case studies, focus group discussions) as well as quantitative data (e.g. surveys, skill audits, model-based projections). Long-term skill forecasts are usually carried out at the national level, whereas short-term forecasts are conducted at the regional or local levels, often through the network of the Public Employment Services (PES) or manpower agencies in developing countries. In many of the developing countries, skill forecasting methods are either non-existent or implemented on a limited basis because most of the workforce is engaged in the unstructured market known as the informal economy. This is why there is a data scarcity on this issue.
Nepal’s unemployment rate stands at 11.4 percent, according to Nepal Labor Force Survey 2018-19 unveiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Of the total unemployed population, 511,000 are males and 397,000 are females. The jobless rate for males is 10.3 percent and for females 13.1 percent. There exists a high rate of ‘labor underutilization’ in Nepal. Labor underutilization is a situation in which the domestic economy is not able to provide opportunities to work for a minimum of 40 hours per week to those who are willing to work for more hours. The rate of underemployment for a male is 32 percent while for female it is 48.8 percent. It means that more women are working in part-time jobs.
The survey also indicates the skills gap and the discrepancy in the wages between male and female workforce. The wage of a man is Rs17,809 per month while for the female worker it is Rs 13,630 per month having a gap of almost 30 percent making a male worker earn more than Rs 5,834 a female worker. Most of the employment opportunities are available in the informal sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and retail and wholesale businesses. Automobile workshops, manufacturing, construction, and education are other sectors in Nepal’s economy which provide substantial numbers of jobs to youth. Women’s participation in high-level jobs is very low as males occupy 86.8 percent of the managerial level positions in Nepal whereas females due to their relatively skill level and educational attainment manage to fill only 13.2 percent of such positions.
A total of 300,000 Nepalese youth both men and women migrate to foreign countries for employment in a year. They are issued labor permits by Foreign Employment Department of Nepal. Besides, there are several hundred thousand who migrate to foreign countries without any official approval. Most of them are employed in manual labor or blue color jobs because their skill level is low. Recent available data with the Government of Nepal shows that only 47% of them had a certificate of Grade X and surprisingly 24.6% of them were school dropouts as they had discontinued their education after passing Grade VIII.
Shocking 21.1% of them could pass only Grade 5 never returned to school. In case of vocational or occupational training, most of the foreign job aspirants in Nepal undergo short-term training in hotel-related jobs such as cooking, soliciting orders, front desk management and so on followed by the training in housekeeping to be employed as domestic servant or butler. While there is the youth in Nepal who get technical training in driving, carpentry, plumber, masonry, and electricians. However, these skills are to be upgraded to reach an advance level for grabbing higher level of opportunities. Let the World Youth Skills Day inspire Nepalese youth to think big and act big in acquiring knowledge and skills with the support of both Government and non-Government agencies.