World Youth Skills Day
Iker Gallardo Arrieta, Research Professor, IMH
Monika Ezenarro, Academic Tutor and Quality Manager, IMH
July 15th, was declared by United Nations in 2014 as the World Youth Skills Day to provide visibility to the importance of teaching young people skills for employment, decent work, and entrepreneurship. Since then, the world has evolved incredibly due to the development of many different technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vaccines Designing Technologies. The required skills for these new technologies differ from the ones needed previously, so it is even more crucial for new generations to be equipped with the appropriate skills.
Firstly, the most important point is to select the right skill that is necessary. This is not an easy task. It is evidence that computers dominate our everyday lives, and so is the working environment. In consequence, skills related to informatics and human-machine interaction are evidently the right choice. However, these skills are not the only ones. In a deeply connected world language skills and social skills are also essential to communicate and create relations with people of any place. In addition, and focusing on working abilities, each specific job requires a set of specific skills that may not be useful for a different job. A nurse should be very accurate in an emergency rather than creative. However, a designer needs to be very creative, and not so accurate. In other words, if kids are encouraged to be more accurate, they will be less creative, and vice versa. And balancing all skills is where resides the selection difficulty.
Secondly, how these selected skills are taught is a key aspect. The youth of developed countries is mainly digital natives, which means that they have grown up with a computer at home and are used to interacting with computers. Furthermore, computers are also present in schools, libraries, and streets, as nowadays, a mobile phone is a computer much more powerful than a desktop of 20 years ago. The presence of computers and how kids interact with them, in the form of images and short and simple videos or texts, have reduced the ability to keep attention for long and complex tasks.
These modern kids’ features are poorly adapted in schools’ methodologies, which makes schools not achieve their main goal. Therefore, students go to university at a lower level than they should have, which affects directly in students’ results. Exceptional students, young people with natural abilities in one or more areas of study, are the only ones completing university degrees.
Finally, it is crucial that young people gain some work experience before obtaining their final job. This point is essential as this is the best way to prove their skills. However, the access of youth to the first job is becoming more and more complicated due to two reasons. On one hand, parents pay for everything and are giving young students the money, they ask for. Consequently, young people do not have the need of getting a job to be able to afford whatever they want. On the other hand, employers’ philosophy of short-term profits makes it difficult to hire inexperienced people, as they have to spend time showing how to do a specific job. If they changed this mindset, it would help in reducing unemployment rates at younger stages.
In conclusion, the World Youth Skills Day was created to make visible modern societies’ problems with young employability. The world is changing very fast and the selection of the right skills and methodologies that allow young people to gain these skills must be revised and updated if a complete generation is not lost. In addition, people that are in charge of the young, such as their parents and employers, must change their mindset in order to face the problem of high unemployment rates among young people.