Youth is undeniably the most important and formidable force and resource that a nation can have; and interestingly most of the Commonwealth countries are positioned with this unprecedented opportunity of being endowed with a large amount of ‘Youth Capital’. Harnessing this ‘demographic dividend’ by investing in them NOW, is the need of the hour which all governments, business leaders and development practitioners must seriously consider and must commit themselves to. Investing in youth for employment and enterprise development and for their overall empowerment is equivalent to investing in the future. It should be a collective dream and a common goal which nations must aspire to, share and realise together.
It is widely recognised that in the current global economic scenario, there is paucity of jobs both in the private as well as the public sectors and the youth despite constituting the bulk of the vibrant workforce remains an under-utilised resource. It is therefore important that countries build an innovative system that is geared towards investing in youth and supporting an entrepreneurial culture-a culture where young people are viewed as assets and are encouraged to harness their creative abilities for self-employment and wealth creation in general- A culture that is geared towards self-reliance and self actualisation in the long run.
Investing in Youth employment: Why?
- Despite constituting the bulk of the population in the global South, they are either unemployed or under-employed;
- Under the current scenario, through autonomous initiatives young people do make significant contribution as productive workers (both legal and illegal), entrepreneurs and consumers; institutionalised support can help harness their maximum potential;
- Investing in youth can contribute in ensuring socio-economic and political stability in any country/region;
- Tapping this vibrant workforce can contribute significantly to economic growth and social well-being; thereby lending a solid foundation for aspiring economies.
CYP’s mandate for Youth employment with an emphasis on Youth enterprise
The CYP Strategic Plan 2008-2012 outlines four specific areas of focus, all related to youth employment under the Youth Enterprise & Sustainable Livelihoods (YESL) strategic programme area. These are:
i. Influencing member governments to formulate national policy and plans for Youth employment.
ii. Establishing a regional data bank on Youth employment, entrepreneurship, Youth employability and capacity building needs.
iii. Building the capacity of primary stakeholders to tackle Youth employment issues by opening up possibilities for Youth entrepreneurship and Youth employability.
iv. Building strategic alliances with relevant stakeholders so that they advocate for Youth employment through lobbying and networking.
The Strategic Plan (2008-2012) focuses largely on the need to address Youth enterprise through advocacy and partnership with various stakeholders, in the formulation of an integrated action plan, and in the sharing of good practices in member countries. CYP’s own Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative (CYCI) can be viewed as one of those good practices.
CYP thus is carving out new roles through an integrated approach to act as a catalyst to address youth unemployment. The approach is by building strategic collaborations, alliances, coalitions and partnerships with Commonwealth member countries and experts within these countries. It is also a strategic response to the 2009 CHOGM mandate ‘Investing in Youth’, the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) 2007-2015 and the objectives of CYP Strategic Plan 2008-2012. In addition, this conference will be a unique opportunity for Youth Employment Network (YEN) lead countries to share their government commitment to a wide range of stakeholders. It will build upon and consolidate initiatives on Youth employment and entrepreneurship development held at regional levels of the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
It is, in this context, a modest attempt is being made in that direction by organising this conference so that the existing initiatives can be taken forward and wider participation from relevant stakeholders can be sought to address this potential but poorly understood area for any meaningful engagement of the youth.
Main Objective of the conference:
± To review context trends, challenges and opportunities of Youth unemployment with a focus on Youth entrepreneurship/enterprise development
In brief the conference aims to:
± Share findings of the Commonwealth regional conferences on investing in Youth employment
± Showcase global good models on Youth enterprise/entrepreneurship development,
± Explore possibilities to build strategic collaboration, alliances, coalitions and partnerships for Youth enterprise development in the Commonwealth
± Decide on a guiding framework for promoting Youth enterprise/ entrepreneurship development.
Venue, date and theme
The theme of the conference is ‘Investing in Youth Employment’ and it is being organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, through the Youth Affairs Division (YAD) on the 9th-10th May 2011, at Marlborough House in London, UK.
Who is the conference for?
The conference is primarily targeted to engage representatives of High Commissions of the Commonwealth member countries, members of the Commonwealth Youth Caucus Network, Young entrepreneurs, representatives of the G-20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, Global Youth Enterprise Networks, Member Governments, civil society organisations, YEN lead countries, World Bank, ILO, the corporate sector, financial institutions, CYP Regional Centres; and relevant divisions of the Commonwealth Secretariat committed towards Youth enterprise and employment.
What to look forward to in the conference?
In addition to the interactive panel discussion sessions, there will be working groups’ sessions and presentations where delegates can engage with the leading experts in the field of youth employment and enterprise development for a meaningful dialogue and outcome.
Key Speakers include:
Dr. Otuoma Paul- Minister of Youth affairs and Sports, Government of Kenya
Herman Mulder – Senior Independent Advisor on ‘Green Financing’, Amsterdam
Markus Pilgrim – Manager and Task Leader Youth Employment Network, International Labour Office, Geneva
Mattias Lundberg – Senior Economist, World Bank, Washington D.C.
Sara Elder– Expert, Youth Employment
S. Sridhar – Chairman and Managing Director- Central Bank of India, India
For any further information, please contact
Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP)
Marlborough House, Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HX, United Kingdom
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