Today’s world has the largest generation of youth in history. Their needs and potential are increasingly recognized in the international community. I am proud to have made youth issues a priority, including by appointing the first-ever Youth Envoy to serve as a liaison between the United Nations and the world’s young people.
This elevation on the global agenda comes at a critical time. Young people hold the key to society’s future advancement, yet too often they face barriers to their personal progress. More than 73 million are unemployed, making youth three times more likely than adults to be out of work.
The turmoil prevailing in many societies today adds to the urgency of addressing youth unemployment. Too many youth in developing countries are trapped into working poverty stemming from the irregularity of jobs. They toil without formal employment or social protection. Jobs creation is not keeping up with new entrants to the labour market.
Young people are understandably searching for the financial security, personal satisfaction and sense of purpose that come from meaningful employment. Leaders have pledged to assist them in this effort. The visionary 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for substantially increasing the number of youth with the skills they need for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
Empowering young people through skills development strengthens their capacity to help address the many challenges facing society, including poverty, injustice and violent conflict. There is no better investment than helping a young person to develop their abilities. Successful skills programmes link young people with opportunities to gain experience and jobs. It is especially critical to cultivate girls and young women with skills in science, technology and innovation.
The United Nations Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth is bringing together the UN system, governments, businesses, academic institutions, youth organizations and other partners to scale up action and impact in this area.
On this World Youth Skills Day, let us renew our resolve to invest more in empowering young people. When we do, they can better advance the broader mission of the United Nations for lasting peace, sustainable development and human rights for all.