World Youth Skills Day 2021: creativity and resilience to face the pandemic

World Youth Skills Day, observed annually on 15 July, focuses on equipping young people with the skills they need for meaningful employment, decent work and fulfilling entrepreneurship. This year we join the International Labour Organisation in celebrating the resilience and creativity of youth throughout the crisis.

In June 2021, we organised the YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on the Future of Work. It was a great opportunity for young people to hear from experts and to discuss topics related to work and career paths in general, including the creative economy. We asked a few of the Summit participants to share their experiences and thoughts after the event.

Why the YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on Future of Work?

The summit was designed by young people for young people. By breaking isolation and despair, the aim of the plenaries and the workshops was to bring collaboration and hope through sharing and discussing best practice.

Being inspired

Abdulkadir Ahmed, 21, from Nigeria, attended the session with Jobzmall to learn about entrepreneurship and the importance of soft-skills: “Listening to Nathan Candaner on how as a student he found an innovative way to allow fresh graduates like himself to connect with their potential employers and showcase their skills through video, tells you how challenges and barriers can be a source of inspiration and innovation for young people of today.”

Watch the session

Turning challenges into opportunities through creativity

“The summit helped me grow out of my comfort zone and speak out more. It even gave me the courage to join the World YMCA panel live, and give my comments about the event. It also helped me network with great people all around the world, providing me with information about different places. I realized that young people are indeed unstoppable – even in hard times like now, as we deal with this global pandemic. We don’t t give up, and we find ways to express our creativity no matter what. We may be shut up in our homes because of COVID-19, but our innovativeness will never be!” Rona Kingji, 17, YMCA Kosovo

“I learned in from this call to action for youth to be proactive in revolutionizing the future of work, that creativity is a vital tool which will help us future-proof ourselves. From understanding the fluidity of the present and future worlds of work, to institutionalizing care and green jobs, to integrating social needs in engaging the community of future workers, creativity is an important ingredient.” Rovin Jhon Cincollagas, 26, YMCA Manila, Philippines

“Young people are the backbone of many communities, and it was their creativity which led to the survival of their communities during COVID-19. Whether they were discussing a business start-up or a sustainable approach to agriculture and tourism in Africa, the panellists at the sessions I attended brought hope, ideas and experience on how they helped their communities soften the blow of COVID-19. Some even saw COVID-19 as a challenge to change their way of living, mostly back to sustainable ways.” Stefanie Tornow, 24, YMCA Bonn, Germany

During the pandemic, Abdulkadir Ahmed with his team helped 138 internally displaced persons, among whom 40% were females aged 10-24, in Maiduguri Borno State (North Eastern Nigeria) to access and continue learning through the Street2School initiative. “This is a blended online and offline community learning platform that provides access to basic literacy, numeracy and life skills to young people from marginalised communities”, explains Abdulkadir.

Youth Led Solutions Summit session on the creative economy

Watch the workshop on “Tapping into the creative economy for youth employment”. It discusses how the future of work is what we make it, and how we can gain awareness of employment opportunities in the creative industries.

Resilience as a way to thrive

Even if the pandemic crushed hopes for the future, young people are facing their new challenges with adaptability and strength. They are eager to learn new tools and new practices to enhance their possibilities.

“Young people still have the entire world open to them, and they can change the world they are living in. As much as they are challenged due to COVID-19, I think that young people still have enough hope and creativity to take that challenge and build something new from it. They are not entirely resilient to the pandemic, but they can change the narrative and the way things are handled.” Stefanie Tornow

“Young people have to up their adaptability, flexibility and problem-solving skills, together with self-confidence, improved mental health and organizing skills. That will allow us young people to create new pathways to thrive and live a better life.” Abdulkadir Ahmed

“Young people must be resilient at all times, especially in this time of pandemic because we are the present ambassadors and future leaders of the world. To be resilient, the youth must harness essential skills like creativity, critical thinking, storytelling, among several others to be able to adjust effectively. In addition, looking at a lens of a servant leader helps us become more inclusive and compassionate in decision making, which in turn benefits everybody.” Rovin Jhon Cincollagas

Watch the session “How do young people prepare today for the Future of Work?”

“I guess the words ‘hardworking’, ‘innovative’ and ‘dreamers’ are the ones that would describe every person I have met at the summit, or any person who is part of YMCA, especially during this pandemic. Those words really are ‘who we are’, and they are the reason why I am proud to declare my generation ‘resilient’.” Rona Kingji