World Youth Skills Day, observed each year on the 15th July, celebrates the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment and entrepreneurship. However, research shows that around three in four youth lack the critical skills needed for employment by companies.
A report from UNICEF revealed that across 92 countries, nearly three-quarters of 15- to 24-year-olds lack the skills required to thrive in future employment opportunities, and in Europe, one in three 13-year-olds students lack basic digital skills when directly tested, according to a report from the European Commission.
The findings outline the significant need to strengthen the role of education and training in promoting digital literacy and digital skills. It is critical to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to build these skills considering how critical they are to both life and work. Moreover, given the dynamic nature of technology, it is vital to recognise that these skills will continually evolve in the future.
In attempt to tackle this skills shortage amongst young people, the Government has hosted several meetings, including the Skills for Growth conference, which saw major British and international companies, including Amazon, Virgin Atlantic and Google, gather to talk about providing better access to skills development and drive economic growth.
The Education Secretary, Chancellor, and Business and Trade Secretary have since been tasked to engage employers in the Government skills agenda and understand their needs.
Over one million UK job vacancies were advertised in May 2023 partly due to skills shortages, and the Government is working to address through high quality apprenticeships, new T Levels and more technical training opportunities.
Youth Skills Day serves as a reminder of the critical importance of empowering young individuals with the necessary skills and resources for employment and success in the digital age, and we must continue to invest in our young people to boost economic resiliency and enhance their futures.
The day also spotlights how many still lack access to connectivity as one in 20 households have been reported to have no home internet, preventing millions from accessing core services such as digital banking, online healthcare and education resources. Digital inclusion unlocks key skills development as online platforms are sandboxes for learning and innovation, which can in turn can drive both equal opportunities for all as well innovation for economic growth.
The government, in partnership with stakeholders, must therefore keep the skills crisis high on their agendas as industry demands increase and help battle unemployment levels.
Written by Elizabeth Anderson, Interim CEO at the Digital Poverty Alliance