Magazine article International Trade Forum

How Digital Skills Can Help Tackle Youth Unemployment: Youth Have to Be Equipped with the Knowledge and Skills Needed for a Digital Future

Magazine article International Trade Forum

How Digital Skills Can Help Tackle Youth Unemployment: Youth Have to Be Equipped with the Knowledge and Skills Needed for a Digital Future

Article excerpt

Some 66.6 million young women and men are unemployed and 144.9 million young workers are employed but living in poverty, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). On the other hand, research by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) points out that there will be tens of millions of jobs available for people with advanced digital skills in the coming years.

Equipping young women and men with job-ready, transferable digital skills can enhance their employment opportunities and trigger a virtuous circle of improved labour market outcomes, increased productivity, innovation and economic growth for economies around the world.


Addressing a global challenge such as youth employment requires global action. While it is generally agreed that young people are natives of the digital realm, relatively few possess the skills needed in the digital economy and employers around the world are struggling to find skilled professionals equipped with the technical and soft skills they desire. In light of the youth employment crisis and the job opportunities available for people equipped with digital skills, the question of skills training therefore becomes central.

Governments, the private sector, civic organizations and academia each have a responsibility in equipping young people and young entrepreneurs with the digital skills necessary to be active members of the digital economy.

The Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth campaign, led by ITU and the ILO, aims to incentivize stakeholders to train and equip 5 million young people by 2030 with job-ready, transferable digital skills; foster digital jobs for youth; and promote an enabling environment for youth employment and entrepreneurship in the digital economy.

Such global initiatives also align with the suggestions made by the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development in its report 'Building digital competencies to benefit from existing and emerging technologies, with a special focus on gender and youth dimensions'. It recommends closer collaboration among different international organizations and the civil society to enhance digital skills.


Of course we can not talk about youth unemployment and digital skills without addressing the issue of gender imbalance. Not only are women more likely to work in more precarious and low-paying jobs, they also have fewer opportunities in regard to access, use and education when it comes to digital technologies and skills. ITU statistics estimate that the proportion of men using the internet is higher than the proportion of women in two-thirds of the countries worldwide and UNESCO figures show that only 3% of information and communication technology (ICT) students are female.

Global initiatives such as the ITU International Girls in ICT Day Campaign encourage girls and young women to take up ICT-related studies and careers through hands-on and engaging activities. They can be instrumental in addressing the digital gender gap and in ensuring all young people have the same opportunities to become active leaders in the digital economy.

The global partnership EQUALS is another effort. Initiated by ITU, UN Women, the International Trade Centre, GSM Association and the United Nations University, it aims to achieve digital gender equality and improve the livelihoods of millions of women around the world through awareness raising and resource mobilization. …

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