Youth Skills Development: 3 Ways To Prepare Young People For The Future Of Work In A Dynamic Labor Market

More than three years after the pandemic began, young people aged 15-24 face even greater challenges in finding employment. They are confronted with disruptive trends like the rapid digitalization of industries and persistently low unemployment rates in many countries. It is crucial that we improve our efforts to prepare this important segment of the workforce for a successful future. On July 15th, I urge you to acknowledge World Youth Skills Day and consider how you can equip young individuals with the competencies they need to enhance their economic prospects while supporting the global economy's workforce demands. The urgency to address the needs of the youth workforce has intensified due to the pandemic's aftermath.

 According to estimates by the UN and PwC, a staggering 60% of the world's 1.8 billion young people will lack the essential skills required for the labor market by 2030. As the skills gap widens, organizations should actively support the development of the next generation of workers and provide equitable entry into the job market. This approach will lead to a more skilled and robust talent pool while bolstering their employer brand. Several companies, including Randstad, have dedicated resources to this cause. For example, our company has partnered with Generation Unlimited, a UNICEF initiative launched in 2018, to train 20,000 young people in India and help 2,000 of them secure jobs through our Passport to Earning initiative by the year's end. We have also actively supported similar initiatives in collaboration with governments, such as our partnership with the Ministry of Education in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to provide students with skills that are in demand. 

To ensure a sustainable and well-prepared workforce for the future, there are three actions that can make a difference. First, policymakers, employers, and labor organizations should invest more in younger workers and do so in a manner that is effective and engaging. Learning is most impactful when individuals understand the benefits of lifelong learning and development. Second, companies can build a strong talent pool and pipeline by offering paid internships. Many employers are already investing in internal training and development programs for young people, viewing them as a source of human capital. Expanding paid internship opportunities that lead to employment upon completion allows companies to engage with young talent early in their careers. Policymakers can further support these efforts by implementing policies and offering tax incentives that encourage investments in underserved communities struggling with high youth unemployment, thereby promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Third, it is essential to collaborate with governments and non-profit organizations for maximum impact. Apart from internships, there are numerous local and global initiatives aimed at enhancing youth skills in which businesses, including Randstad, can participate.

 Collaborating with organizations like VSO enables companies to empower young workers and help them secure decent and sustainable employment. Furthermore, stakeholders should explore diverse options for acquiring marketable and sustainable skills. While traditional university studies have been the conventional route for many young individuals, high costs and competitive admissions present significant barriers to entry. Vocational and trade schools are viable alternatives, but in our digital economy, innovative methods of acquiring skills are emerging. For example, some young people are self-learning skills like programming. By making open educational resources more readily available through online platforms and courses, stakeholders can provide effective options that cater to the needs of each individual learner.

 Among the various pressing issues facing the global labor market, few are as crucial as preparing young people for the rapidly changing economy. As many nations' populations age, economies worldwide must develop the next generation of workers to support the retiring workforce. By allocating more resources and creating job opportunities, we can help the 1.8 billion young people worldwide build their skills and confidence. World Youth Skills Day serves as a powerful reminder that we must work towards this goal not only on this designated day but throughout the year. 

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