South Asia is home to the largest youth population in the world, with almost half of the 1.8 billion population below the age of 24.
This highlights the tremendous potential young people hold to boost their country’s economy and drive social development. That is, if sustainable and tailored investments in youth skills development are made by all.
I’ve met young people across the region who have told me they are hungry to learn, but face a multitude of challenges when trying to gain the skills needed to secure a meaningful job and support their families.
In South Asia, more than 80 million adolescents of secondary education age are out of school. According to the Recovering Learning Report, 79 per cent of youth aged 15-24 years are not on track to acquiring the skills they are expected to at the secondary school level.
With limited vocational training opportunities, the majority of youth are not gaining the job-specific skills they need to join the world of work – a world which is rapidly changing.
New technologies including the recent progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are transforming the nature of work and jobs across the world.
Climate change is also having an impact on the job market. For example, in the agricultural sector many farmers have migrated to cities because their harvests are not earning them enough money due to the changing climate. At the same time, the evolving situation is propelling many industries to adapt to more environment-friendly and climate-resilient approaches that require a deep understanding and application of green skills.
To thrive in today’s world, young people need a full range of skills and knowledge needed to work, be an active citizen and live life in the 21st century.
In South Asia, UNICEF supports young people to develop a wide range of skills, both while they’re in and out of school. These skills are closely interrelated and are integral to making sure young people succeed in school life and work.