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Maldives joins South Asia Youth Skills and Solutions Forum

Mariyam Malsa
30 October 2019, MVT 09:50
Maldivian youths participating in an event. PHOTO: UNICEF MALDIVES
Mariyam Malsa
30 October 2019, MVT 09:50

Maldives is participating in the South Asia Youth Skills and Solutions Forum, which is being held in Mumbai, India from October 29 to 31.

Ooredoo Maldives, Coastline Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Maldives sent representatives to the forum, which is convened by UNICEF, the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) and Generation Unlimited.

Representatives from Accenture, Britannica, Grameenphone, Tata STRIVE, Google, Maruti Suzuki, ILO, Capgemini Technology Services, Ooredoo, Jetwing and other organizations are also in attendance.

The South Asia Youth Skills and Solutions Forum centres on:

- Demonstrate the need for private sector investment in the next generation of South Asian youth.

- Advance the development of partnerships between the private sector, governments, and international agencies to scale-up sustainable solutions to the youth skills crisis in the region.

- Identify comparative strengths and entry points for businesses, governments, youth, and development partners to engage in supporting adolescent education, skills, and employment in the region.

- Send a powerful signal to youth that their aspirations and needs for education, skills, and employment are a high priority for powerful social, political and economic actors.

According to data compiled by GBC-Education, the Education Commission and UNICEF, an estimated 46 percent of South Asian youth leave school without the necessary skills to get a decent job in the next decade.

The figure reveals that South Asia lags behind several other regions in preparing youth for the 21st- century job market despite data confirming South Asia will have the largest youth labour force in the world until 2040. The population trend can potentially enable South Asia to maintain strong economic growth as well as expand opportunities in the education and skills sectors in the upcoming decades.

"Every day, nearly 100,000 young South Asians – a large sports stadium of young people – enter the labour market, almost half of them not on track to find 21st-century jobs,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“South Asia is at a critical juncture, with a limited window during which it can reap significant demographic dividends from its talented and capable youth. Get it right, and millions could be lifted out of poverty. Fail to do so, and economic growth will falter, youth despair will rise, and further talent will be lost to other regions”.

However, a recent UNICEF ‘Voices of Youth’ survey conducted among 32,000 young people in South Asia revealed the opinions of under 24-year-olds concerning their level of preparedness for the modern economy. According to the poll, many youths believe their education systems are outdated and do not sufficiently prepare them for employment. About 26 percent of youth cited lack of work experience, 23 percent cited inadequate support services to improve employability, and 44 percent highlighted bribery demands or discriminatory hiring practices as key barriers to securing employment after graduation.

“This is a crisis,” said Justin Van Fleet, Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education.

“Addressing the youth skills gap in South Asia requires government investments, commitments from the business community, contributions from civil society, and the perspective of young people to best equip the next generation to successfully enter the rapidly changing job market”, he further added.

“In my travels, I have heard the voices of young people — their ideas, their enthusiasm, their vision for the future. I have also heard their worries about not getting the education or skills they need, and not being able to find a job”, the UNICEF Executive Director stated.

“The world of work is changing fast. If governments invest in better and modern education, and businesses create better opportunities for young people to enter the job market, South Asia can set an example for the world. But this can only be done if we act smart, and act together”.

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