Plenary 7: Youth in the 21st Century
August 25, 2011 – 10:15 a.m.
||Samantha Constant, Wolfensohn Family Foundation
Branka Minic, Manpower Group
Stephen Vetter, Partners of the Americas
||Ash Hartwell, University of Massachusetts
Rachael Blum of USAID opened the “Youth In the 21st Century” session with remarks pertaining to the new youth strategy and youth development. She noted the growing size of the youth population in the developing world and how this presents an opportunity for USAID to advance its goals.
The session’s moderator, Ash Hartwell of the University of Massachusetts, noted that youth is a cross-cutting issue of real importance, and one of the reasons for a session on youth was due to the success of the education sector in achieving Education for All. Dr. Hartwell highlighted the expressed need of youth to be involved in shaping their futures and the futures of their countries by sharing a story of frustrated Kenyan youths during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Samantha Constant of the Wolfensohn Family Foundation discussed youth demographics trends in the Middle East and North Africa, the transition from theory into practice in the education system, and strategies for moving forward. Ms. Constant noted that the two main challenges confronting youth today are the guarantee of equity of access and quality of education. She proposed an approach that focused on assisting youth by improving university admission policies, mentoring youth, partnering with the private sector, and including youth in the political process.
Branka Minic from Manpower discussed how youth employment is critical to sustainable economic growth and stability. She noted major trends affecting the work world, including demographic and economic shifts, the growth and power of individual choice, and the rapid change of technology. To better cope with these trends, she suggested ways to make youth programming more responsive to the job market, beginning with establishing the needs of employers in the local market, making training relevant to employment policy, and ensuring that the educational system focuses on the employability of young people. She also suggested creating an entrepreneurship-friendly environment in which youth could pursue self-employment opportunities, and encouraged stakeholders at all levels to cooperate for the benefit of youth development.
Stephen Vetter of Partners of the Americas spoke of the challenges facing youth in Latin America and began his remarks by discussing education reform protests and a national strike being led by young people in Chile. According to Mr. Vetter, many Latin American youth leave school without life and technical skills, thus limiting their opportunities, and many are being seduced by gangs, leading to problems within the community. He suggested that community organizations, NGOs, faith based associations, business leaders, and others should create networks to explore means to offer better prospects and opportunities for youths.
Key take away points The youth bulge in developing nations presents many challenges---and opportunities--- for communities. Youth are currently lacking in life skills and job experience, putting them at a severe disadvantage in the job market.
To view the presentation, please click the link below:
Hartwell PPT (5 MB)