Solving global youth unemployment in 15 minutes

What would you tell the world governments and top educational experts if you had 15 minutes to convince them on how to solve youth unemployment, improve school to work transitions and adequately listen to youth? You would stand on a stage in front of 1600 people from 121 countries, 40 of them ministers and have nothing but a microphone in front of you.

I was asked to do this yesterday. The occasion is the Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training. The congress is organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the World bank, OECD, International Labour Organisation and European Training Foundation. It is hosted by the Chinese government and held in Shanghai from May 13th to 16th. All the 197 UNESCO member states have been requested to send a delegation of three people and members from NGO’s and private sector will also attend. Roughly every 12 years a congress like this is organized to share good international practices and find new global policy directions.

According to ILO there are 200 million unemployed worldwide and 75 million of them are under the age of 25. The true obstacle that stands between us and the solution in solving the global youth unemployment is our vision of the youth. It is that exact image that translates into educating and listening the youth in a certain way that has proven ineffective. We see youth as a problem and a burden, not recourse or a solution.

This image leads us to teaching students, especially in the vocational education, knowledge instead of life-skills. We do not listen to youth properly because societies area afraid they can’t deliver their promises. However, listening to youth means involving them into society and empowering them through continuous self-learning. Nowadays labor markets change so rapidly that skills learned in school become out-dated quite fast. The world must start to see youth as experts and benefit from “youth crowdsourcing” if it wants sustainable growth.

I will post my full-length speech once I return to Beijing for you to read. The feedback I received was very encouraging. The chair of the session described it as “real TED-talk material” and a several copies of it were requested to be brought back home with the delegates and to be translated to different languages. The world governments are slowly waking up to listen young people. It is about the time!

You can find more information about the conference here:

Greetings from Shanghai!