From education to employment

World Youth Skills Day 2021: The importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, further education and entrepreneurship

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#WYSD21 – Today is World Youth Skills Day (15 Jul). Observed annually, the day focuses on the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, further education and entrepreneurship. 

This year, World Youth Skills Day will once again take place in a challenging context, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment for 16-24 year olds in the UK has increased by 13% since the start of the pandemic, meaning investing in youth skills is more integral than ever. Especially considering: 

  • Over three in four UK executives claim that it’s difficult to recruit people with the right technical skills. 
  • Whilst 70% of young people expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job, only half of employers said they were able to provide that training.

Agata Nowakowska 100x100Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA, Skillsoft

“Unemployment for 16-24 year olds in the UK has increased by 13% since the start of the pandemic. As young people continue to bear the brunt of job losses, more needs to be done to help this year’s crop of school and university leavers looking to join the labour market in the summer. World Youth Skills Day offers a great opportunity to do just that, as it focuses on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, further education and entrepreneurship. Indeed, 34% of young people do not currently feel equipped to compete in the job market.

“For young people looking to make the most of their spare time and build employability skills, online learning is ideal. Setting aside 20 minutes to focus on sharpening your skills in areas such as leadership, time management, creativity and innovation, can help you feel more prepared, confident and employable. Organisations also recognise and value those who accept responsibility for their own development, as they realise that agile learners are key in future-proofing the workforce as the war for talent continues.”

Sarah Danzl, Head of Global Communications and Client Advocacy at Degreed, on World Youth Skills Day said:

“World Youth Skills day marks an important occasion, celebrating the skills of young people at an unprecedented time for the world economy, job market and education. The past few months have been marked by disruption and how this impacts youth skills is yet to be realized. What is clear, is that there will be long-term benefits to their agility and adaptability as they have had to respond to changes in their education, to remote set ups, as well as wider uncertainty. 

“Disruption will not end after the pandemic, today’s youth will face numerous opportunities and challenges. Such as the shift to hybrid and more agile working, automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, combating climate change and social inequality. This will impact the skills they’ll need, and, indeed, they will have to focus on more transferable ‘power’ skills that they can carry from role to role, project to project and apply to many different contexts. These skills cannot be built solely in a classroom but through lived experiences such as peer mentoring, work experience — even living through a crisis. 

“Young people have been more severely impacted by the pandemic in terms of unemployment and career prospects. The rise in unemployment has also not spurred an increase in reskilling — something that is vital to switching careers quickly and remaining employable. Instilling a habit of continuous upskilling will be critical to overcome the career scarring that’s occurred due to Covid-19.

“Education must adapt to reflect the new reality, with the onus being on both individual students and their educators and employers to equip them with the skills they need to remain employable long into the future.”

Peter Collison, Head of Formative Assessment and School Platforms at RM, said:

“As the pandemic and social distancing measures continue to impact schools, colleges and universities, as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, this year’s World Youth Skills Day takes place during a challenging time for students. To help bridge the gap in the development of young people’s skills, many educational institutions have turned to digital and remote learning technologies to offer the same high-quality learning resources, lessons and assessments to young people at home and in class.

“When it comes to boosting the skills of young people, educators must embrace authentic assessment approaches, which assesses students with the tools they will be expected to use in the world of work. Similarly, educators should look to assess pupils’ skills that are of most value in the future workplace, like problem solving, critical thinking and team working, instead of only testing retained knowledge. Finally, digital adaptive testing solutions are now being adopted to allow test takers to get a much more personalised assessment experience and even allowing assessments to be much shorter but with the same high levels of accuracy and validity.

“In the near future, we can expect to see AI driven platforms incorporated into many forms of digital assessment. Even now, some platforms are able to predict the score a test taker would get by having them answer just a few short questions. If a student’s score is not high enough, the platform can provide a personalised learning and coaching programme to get them to where they need to be – all on their phone, on-demand, personalised and AI driven. This will help ensure every student is equipped with the skills they need to succeed in the future.”

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