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Youth Skills Crisis in South Asia and beyond*

Urgent action is needed to tackle the youth skills crisis in South Asia. Globally, the region embraces the largest youth population. The young people, incl. in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, have recently addressed their governments to commit and deliver on policies on training and employment. Outdated education systems are cited as being part of the concern relating to the future workforce skills. The awareness of relevant skills is another big issue.

As a young Indian systems engineer in a local village puts it, for the promotion of relevant skills “investment in sustainable and accessible institutions” of the future is vital. The step would bridge the gap “between the teaching standards and industry demands.”

This is how youth from across the region share their experiences with good practices of skills development:

17-year-old Neeshan from Hulhumalé, Maldives has spent two years in an apprenticeship program relating to her ambition: to study civil engineering. The hard skills she has learnt run in parallel with her ability to challenge stereotypes – she is the only female at the site where she gains experience.

16-year-old Mahadi from Bhola, Bangladesh, between his studies, chairs the student welfare club. As Bangladesh is a disaster-prone country, the young people cooperate with the authoritative bodies of their village, families and communities to address the consequences of climate change-induced poverty. An example is the action the club takes to ensure steps are made to restore the child’s access to education.

Youth4Jobs initiative in India, in cooperation with the private sector, supports youth with physical, speech and hearing disabilities. Training and placement of graduates in IT companies are a component of the initiative.

A skill-match programme for specific job-roles in telecom firms, for instance, is also taking hold in some countries of the region. Digitally-enabled self-learning part of the programme allows for further training and assessment of the skills. The step improves the quality of learning and training. That is expected to unleash waves of opportunity and possible higher employability.

Youth in conflict zones, and Afghanistan is an immediate reference, faces training for employment with private sector entities. This workforce development programme funded by foreign donors consists of three levels to “determine labour market needs and skills training requirements.”

The region can set a good practice for the world. The concerns in South Asia are not an isolated case. The urgent action is a global wake-up call to governments, businesses and young people themselves. The impact on education and skills because of automation, digitisation, and other consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing in the EU and other regions of the world as well. The 2030 skills scorecard throws light on the world’s deficit of skills. To make the future less bleak in that respect a transformation of the “skills landscape” for the next generations is a must. How to unlock investment and build new partnerships that embrace all stakeholders is at the heart of addressing what turns to be a “massive crisis”: will the young people have the skills needed for the workplace of the future?

*based on data provided by Theirworld

 

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