This post was written by Katherine Ellis, Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Division.
On the inaugural World Youth Skills Day, I want to recognise and highlight the importance of investing in youth skills development. To fully achieve outcomes in democracy and national development, and indeed sustainable global development, it is vital to have a strategic focus on young people’s abilities.
Engaged, purposeful and productive young people underpin the fabric of societies, the equitable development of nations, the peaceful enjoyment of rights, and a stable environment in which democracy can flourish. Conversely, disengaged and disenfranchised young people can undermine development, and increase risks such as extremism.
This year’s World Youth Skills Day theme is “Youth skills for work and life in the post-2015 agenda”, which reminds us that youth development is a multi-sectoral issue, and requires a large-scale, multi-faceted, collective response in a post-2015 world.
The benefits reaped from investing in the education and training of young people include increased productivity, lower health costs and enhanced social capital, increasing resilience to cope with risks and shocks.
At the same time, we must also consider the demand side – enterprise development, entrepreneurship support, skills matching and market access – and so ensure young people’s skills are put to good use.
The Commonwealth has a strong focus on youth entrepreneurship, seeing the exponential benefit of young people putting their skills to work as job creators. This requires technical and entrepreneurial skills, and also ‘soft’ skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication.
Investment in young people’s capabilities and skills to drive and lead change, including in youth entrepreneurship, will create a cascade effect on national development in all member countries, and create a more prosperous and peaceful Commonwealth.
Photo credit: Julius Shirima, 2015 Pan-Commonwealth Youth Award Winner, Tanzania. Julius is a young entrepreneur who founded Darecha Limited to invest in youth enterprises to grow them and generate jobs for other young Tanzanians. The photo depicts one of Darecha’s young entrepreneurs at work on his farm.
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