The World Youth Skills Day was celebrated for the second consecutive time on 15th July 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters. The event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, ILO and UNESCO. Resolution A/C.3/69/L.13/Rev.1, promoted by Sri Lanka was adopted in November 2014, declaring 15 of July as a day dedicated to the development of youth skills. This year’s event was held under the theme ‘Skills Development to Improve Youth Employment.’
H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, in delivering the opening statement, noted that Skills Development is a primary means of enabling young people to make a smooth transition to work and that education and training can make the difference for youth between poverty and employment. He also highlighted the importance of initiatives like the UN system-wide Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and stated that target 4.4 of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals aims to do just that.
Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, moderated the event and also delivered the message on behalf of the Secretary-General, in which the Secretary General emphasized how empowering young people through skills development strengthens their capacity to address the many challenges facing society, including poverty, injustice and violent conflict.
The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera, addressing the opening session of the event, underlined that the answer to youth unemployment remains within the parameters of the market economy itself. He said that the “ ‘skills gap’ is something that will continue as long as students, educators and employers are not on the same page. Identification and prediction of market realities in future and aligning the skills training with them, is the need of this hour”.
Hon. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife making an intervention highlighted the present situation in terms of skills development and youth employment in Sri Lanka, and measures undertaken by the government to actively promote youth skills development. He said the subject of youth skills development has been taken under the aegis of a separate Cabinet Ministry called Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training. He underlined that Sri Lanka has realized the importance of having inclusiveness at all stages of the implementation of the SDGs and therefore, National Sustainable Development Roadmap that will lead towards the formulation of a legislative and institutional framework and a national strategy will underline the importance of skills training.
Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, Deputy Director-General, Field Operations and Partnerships of ILO, Mr. Jorge Sequiera, Director of UNESCO Office in Santiago, and Ms. Beth Comstock, Vice Chair, Business Innovations at General Electric, also delivered opening statements. Ms. Annisa Triyanti, a youth delegate delivered the final statement of the opening session as representative of the Major Group for Children and Youth.
The opening session was followed by a partnership dialogue, which included representatives from government, UN entities, trade union, education, civil society, and private sector, representing the cross-cutting levels of labour which all play an integral role in employment, and expressed their views on the relationship between skills development and youth employment. A robust exchange of views followed soon after with member states, youth and other representatives raising questions and expressing their remarks on the matter at hand.
The event was telecast live to a conference of youth in Bonn, Germany, organized by UNESCO-UNEVOC, and was webcast live on UN Web TV.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
15 July 2016