World Youth Skills Day: Both a Celebration and a Reminder

Before beginning my discussion about the creation and importance of World Youth Skills Day, I would like to provide you with some context. All of these statistics apply specifically to Uganda.

  1. One out of every five people is of primary school age (6-12 years old).
  2. 53.6% of the population is below the age of 18.
  3. 56.9% of the population works in “vulnerable employment,” defined by Uganda Bureau of Statistics as “less likely to have formal work arrangements.”
  4. 68% of children aged 14-17 work in agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
  5. 37.3% of the employed population has had “some primary education.”

I don’t bring up these statistics to evoke feelings of pity. Instead, I encourage all to view these statistics as an opportunity for change. I, personally, believe that employing children with practical skills is a method of combatting some of these high statistics, especially given the young-leaning nature of Uganda’s population.

Therefore, in following this logic, World Youth Skills Day is a day to be recognized, remembered, and celebrated. As quoted from WorldSkills.org, Sri Lanka spearheaded a resolution, with the assistance of the G77 and China, “to highlight at a global level, the importance of youth skills development.” The campaign has a singular goal: to improve the socio-economic standards for youth, including combatting issues of unemployment and underemployment. On 18 December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution, marking 15 July to recognize work that has already been completed and promote skill building and usage among the world’s youth population. This year’s theme, Learning to Learn for Life and Work, encourages students to share how learning a particular skill has impacted their life.

What of children with incarcerated parents, however? A study conducted by Wells of Hope found that 90% of imprisoned individuals came poor socio-economic backgrounds. This, compounded with children often becoming household heads, given that 98% of incarcerated people are men, leads to many children with incarcerated parents turning to hard labor or sex work. Wells of Hope, on the other hand, provides a space to support children in their learning, through the creation of both a primary and secondary school: Wells of Hope Junior School and Wells of Hope High School. By the end of 2019, Wells of Hope aims to place twenty children in tertiary or vocational schools to equip them with new skills. Wells of Hope believes in facilitating sustainable change by funneling resources back into the community, after gaining the necessary skills to foster said change.

These efforts cannot be completed alone. To combat youth unemployment and underemployment, multiple parties must come together to encourage skill building and positive change. Wells of Hope functions as one cog of the larger machine, prompting children to believe in themselves and their futures, as all children should have the opportunity to do.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from University of Michigan USA

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