Connect young people with future-relevant jobs: UNICEF chief

UNICEF chief Henrietta H Fore. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: It is time for India to stand up and have a movement of young people to connect them with jobs relevant for the future and equip them with marketable skills, UNICEF chief Henrietta H Fore said.

UNICEF in collaboration with NITI Aayog recently launched an initiative YuWaah aimed at imparting skills among the youth and providing employment to more than 300 million young Indians.

Noting that in India there is a need to create one million jobs every month, Fore said they hope YuWaa reaches every young person in the country.

"We hope YuWaa will reach every young person in India. This is time for India to stand up. It is time for the world to stand up and India could have a movement among young people to connect them with jobs and livelihoods and education that is relevant for the future that will result in the world and the nation moving in the right direction," she told PTI in an interview.

Fore said there is a need for skilling the youth in service sector which currently dominates the market.

She also said that there are concerns surrounding appropriate skilling in rural areas of the country.

"The area where I think we carry some concerns about is rural areas - young people do not want to stay on farms and follow what their parents did. They want to go to cities and they want to be digitally abled so it will be very important that young people in rural areas can also see their lives on how they can make a living and love life in rural communities," she said.

Fore stressed on the need to modernise the current curriculum in schools at least in four areas.

"One is fundamental learning - reading and writing. The second is transferrable skills like critical thinking. The third area is occupational skills and the fourth one is digital skills," she said.

Under YuWaah, key stakeholders from the Centre and state governments, private sector, civil society organizations, UN agencies, supporting partners, solution providers, educators and young people are brought together.

The partnership has outlined challenges, aspirations and solutions to build productive life and work capabilities, and economic opportunities, for those between 10 to 24 years of age, especially from the most vulnerable sections, Fore said.

The UNICEF, earlier in a statement, said the current workforce in India is 480 million, of whom 93 per cent (446 million) are employed in small, informal-sector enterprises. More than 60 per cent (288 million) are employed in rural India. In addition, 90 per cent of India's workforce has received no formal skills training.

In the next twenty years, India's current population of 444 million children will enter the working age. India will have a huge task to equip these adolescents with marketable skills, the UNICEF said.

YuWaah aims to support this massive exercise by bringing together key stakeholders to recognize, design and implement solutions to expand employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for education, skills, decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods that are accessible to all, Fore said.

"We have also seen that young people want to be part of it themselves and it is up to other young people that a whole army stands up so it becomes a movement by young people for young people with young people and they will help. If we all come in for the Yuwaa then we can change the opportunities for the young," she said.

Fore said for the initiative, UNICEF looked at skills that youth who are coming out of school need.

"What we hear from young people is that they want to be self directed they want to choose what they want to learn, when they want to learn and they want to choose their own livelihoods.The youth would need to learn then relearn be curious they would have to continually assess so we need to have platforms that can learn with them change with them and have real-time information," she added.

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