By Nuru Ahmed

In order to equip one million young people with employability and resilience skills to assist them find jobs during the looming recession when youth employment prospects look bleak, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a Global Skills Academy.

Members of UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition are teaming up to provide youth with opportunities to acquire digital skills and other competences through free access to online platforms development programmes. Partners’ offers will be pooled within the Global Skills Academy, providing a one-stop access to training opportunities.

According to the recent UN Secretary General’s Policy Brief on, “The World of Work and COVID-19”, the young account for more than 40% of people employed in hard-hit sectors worldwide. Even before the crisis hit, 267 million young people were not in employment, education or training.

Stefania Giannini, the Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO said, “the crisis has highlighted the need of training youth with right skills to accelerate the transition to more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies.”

“This requires massive investment in education and skills training and expanded partnerships with employers to narrow the gap between demand for skills and the workplace,” She added.

The project, Skills for a Resilient Youth in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, was unveiled on World Youth Skills Day, celebrated on 15 July.

Skills in such fields as data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning are in demand in labour markets around the world, yet many education and training systems lack the capacities required to prepare youth for jobs in these areas.

As such, contributions by founding partners include Workforce Recovery Initiative, online learning to re-skill unemployed workers to re-enter the workforce by Coursera; Women@Dior programme, a leadership educational program around the four core values of autonomy, inclusion, creativity and sustainable development (Dior); Tech4All programme, a digital skills training and MOOCS covering fields such as Artificial intelligence; big data and the Internet of Things (Huawei); and Festo’s e-learning modules in water technology and wastewater management.

Others are free access to platforms providing training on emerging technologies and upskilling and reskilling for youth and adults (IBM); free online courses and real-world tools to build skills in technologies that help students and jobseekers succeed in a post-Covid world (Microsoft); Orange Digital Centres for digital skills development and Orange Campus Services allowing access to free on line courses, both in Africa and Middle East and platform to evaluate (Orange), develop and certify digital skills (PIX).

The Academy will operate through a matching process facilitated by UNEVOC, UNESCO’s global network for institutions specialized in Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

Detailed information about available trainings will be shared with the 250 UNEVOC Centres in more than 160 Member States. The Centres will choose interested participants and connect them to the Coalition members’ training platforms. Disadvantaged learners will be a priority.