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‘World Youth Skills Day’ celebrated in New York

H.E._Dr._Rohan_Perera_addressing_the_opening_session_of_the_event

The World Youth Skills Day was celebrated for the third consecutive year on 17th July 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event was organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, ILO and UNESCO. Resolution A/res/69/145, promoted by Sri Lanka was adopted in November 2014, declaring 15 of July as a day dedicated to the development of youth skills. This year’s event was held under the theme ‘Skills for the future of work’ and was co-chaired by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal.

H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly, in delivering the opening statement at the opening segment of the event, noted that “Investing in young people, and realizing the demographic dividend, is one of the most effective, long-term and exponential investments Governments can make to achieve the 2030 Agenda and realize a future that is safe, secure and prosperous for all."

Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef d’ Cabinet while making a statement on behalf of the  UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Young people are some of the greatest change-makers and innovators we have. We must help young women and men to achieve their potential not only for their own sake, but for all of us, and our communities and societies.”

The Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations, H.E. Dr. Rohan Perera, addressing the opening session of the event, said that the world has witnessed a rapid change in the patterns of employment and related technologies. He underlined that on the one hand the world is experiencing a rapid expansion of technologies such as ‘automation’ which aims at decreasing human labour but on the other, the economists are calling for the creation of new employment opportunities. While pointing out that this dilemma underlines the importance of preparing for the future, he expressed that the need of the hour is managing the transition in the economy and the society in a holistic manner, carefully balancing the contending interests involved. He underlined the need of balanced development strategies which effectively integrate technology, innovation with job creation and capacity building, avoiding the pitfall of ‘technological unemployment’ and maximising the opportunities that technological innovation, presents.

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the newly appointed Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth made her maiden public intervention at this event. She underlined that “With the 2030 Agenda, Member States have committed to substantially increase the number of youth who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. They recognized that without skilled and employable young people, our chances of achieving the Goals are greatly diminished.  It is time to take that commitment seriously.”

Ambassador Álvaro Mendonça e Moura, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN, Mr. Christophe Perrin, Deputy Director General of the ILO, and Ms. Marie Paule Roudil, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York on behalf of Ms. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, also spoke at the opening session.

The opening session was followed by a high level Ministerial roundtable discussion moderated by ILO. H.E. Kristian Jensen, Minister of Finance of Denmark, H.E. Imad Fakhoury, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan and Hon. Karunarathna Paranawithana, Deputy Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training of Sri Lanka were panelists of this discussion.  

Hon. Karunarathna Paranawithana pointed out that Sri Lanka is on track in achieving the SGD goal 4.4 on substantially increasing the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship by 2030. He said that one of the ideologies behind achieving this goal is to provide free vocational skills, including digital skills in line with the educational skills in Sri Lanka.

During the general discussion, Ms. Susan Schorr, Head of the Digital Inclusion Division of the International Telecommunication Union referred to Sri Lanka as a model in using digital technologies to empower young women and elaborated on the ongoing cooperation between the GoSL and the ITU.

Ms. Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation, Ms. Jiwon Park of Major Group on Children and Youth and representatives of the Member States, Youth Representatives, UN entities, trade union, education, civil society, and private sector, representing the cross-cutting levels of labour which all play an integral role in skills development also expressed their views on the skills which are needed in the future which lead to a robust exchange of views. 

The event was webcasted live on UN Web TV.

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
New York

17 July 2017

Hon._Karunarathna_Paranawithana

Ms._Jayathma_Wickramanayake

 

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