Youth can leverage innovation and technology and become drivers of a better and sustainable future

On World Youth Skills Day, partners of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth highlight the role of skills in empowering young people to leverage innovation and technologies and to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Young women and men joined the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Sri Lanka and Portugal, and key youth employment stakeholders at the UN Headquarters in New York on 16 July 2018 to celebrate the annual World Youth Skills Day under the theme “Youth Skills for Sustainability and Innovation”.

Today, over 66 million young women and men are unemployed. Nearly 145 million youth are working, yet living in poverty. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning are impacting the world of work. The event provided a unique opportunity for more than 200 participants from youth organizations, civil society, private sector, governments and beyond to engage in a discussion on how to leverage innovation and emerging technologies to boost youth employment and how skills development systems can support youth in building a better and sustainable future.

In opening the event the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, H.E. Dr. Amrith Rohan Perera, highlighted the challenge of harnessing the benefits of technological development.

In response, Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), emphasized the strategic fit of Decent Jobs for Youth, the global initiative in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to work with committed partners in scaling up country-level action on skills development and youth employment across thematic areas, from digital skills to green jobs. In concluding, Mr. Ryder called on participants to join the global initiative and to support the ITU and ILO led “Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth” campaign with the objective of equipping 5 million young people globally with job-ready digital skills by 2030.

Investing in youth was an investment in the future of societies, highlighted H.E. Mr. Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the UN. In doing so, the role of governments, employers, workers, youth themselves and beyond were critical to shape skills development policies and their implementation, added the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake.

In a keynote speech, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly, UN, pointed out that effective skills development systems were needed to unlock the potential of young people. Following the speech, a panel discussion with the Major Group for Children and Youth, HP Inc., the U.S. Council for International Business, Black in AI and UCLA School of Law shed light on the challenges and opportunities of emerging technologies for young people in the world of work.

To leverage technologies, education and skills development systems need innovative and sustainable solutions to anticipate and address skills needs. Dynamic learning over the life cycle as well as investments in foundational and core work skills are critical for young people to embrace changing technological opportunities and to ensure a fair and sustainable future.

The event at UN headquarters was organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal to the United Nations, the ILO, UNESCO, and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. 


  • International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY)

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

  • Portugal

  • Permanent Mission to the UN

  • Sri Lanka

  • Permanent Mission to the UN

New York , United States of America

Published Date

16 July 2018