Youth learning automotive skills at a college in Klang. These programmes boost their ability to make informed life and work choices. Pix by Faiz Anuar

SKILLS  and jobs for youth are prominently stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or Agenda 2030.

The agenda emphasises the need to increase the number of youth who possess skills essential for their lives and livelihoods.

More importantly, countries (for example, New Zealand, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, the Netherlands and Singapore) that invest resources in providing youth with education and skills to use their talents and potential, opportunities for gainful work and economic activities, and to participate in political and developmental processes that affect their lives, are those that have progressed and  prospered in peace and security.

But, unfortunately, existing systems in most countries are failing to address the learning needs of young people.

Surveys of learning outcomes and skills show that a large number of youth have low levels of achievement in basic literacy and numeracy. 

The International Labour Organisation said young people were almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and were exposed to lower quality jobs, greater labour market inequalities and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. 

In addition, women are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid, and to undertake part-time jobs and temporary contracts.

It is in this context that the UN World Youth Skills Day, which falls on July 15, was established by the UN General Assembly in 2014.

The day is observed to highlight the importance of youth skills development.

While the majority of young people without suitable employment live in developing countries, recognising this problem and carrying out programmes will boost their ability to make informed life and work choices.

It will be necessary and beneficial in Malaysia for government departments, educational institutions and volunteer organisations to focus on policies and schemes that help young people overcome obstacles regarding their employment and skills improvement.

This will help them pursue and live lives that are satisfying and rewarding for themselves and the nation.

Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

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