“Let us renew our resolve to invest more in empowering young people. When we do, they can better advance the broader mission of the United Nations for lasting peace, sustainable development and human rights for all.”
Those are the words of Ban Ki Moon, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, upon the establishment of July 15 as World Youth Skills Day. With 73 million unemployed young people worldwide, and youth being three times more likely than adults to be unemployed, these are certainly important words to listen to.
Here at Adara we recognise just how big an impact education and training can play in completely changing people’s lives through our work with the Adara Kids.
In 2006, Adara rescued 136 children from basements in Kathmandu after they had been trafficked from their homes during a period of great upheaval in Nepal. These children became affectionately known as the ‘Adara Kids.’ After we found them, with the help of our partners, we set about the journey of reconnecting the children with their families, providing them with a safe place to live and the opportunity to go to school.
World Youth Skills Day is a day to recognise and appreciate the enormous benefit skills can provide for young people in finding employment. Although in western society the value of practical and vocational work skills are often undervalued, and literacy and numeracy skills are often taken for granted, for youth in developing countries they can be the vital step to making an independent income. These skills can make all the difference, ensuring that young people aren’t taken advantage of, or forced to work exploitative jobs while being underpaid.
More than 10 years after we found the Adara Kids, we are proud to see them growing up into wonderful adults, and building their academic and vocational qualifications. Many of the children are now in the Youth Development Programme (YDP), completing their education and living independently. Adara actively supports them by paying all their school fees and providing them with a stipend which they have to manage themselves to pay for their rent, food and other expenses. Our Nepal social worker case manages each youth, they continue to come to Adara functions, and the team regularly drops in on them to ensure they are well and happy.
This support allows the Adara Kids to focus on further study or vocational courses – training which opens so many doors, and provides them with opportunities that they would not have otherwise had access to. They are trained in areas as vast as computer skills, hotel management, dental nursing, and accounting. This has resulted in many of the youth finding jobs almost as soon as they finish their training.
One great example of how training can broaden a young person’s horizons is Janak. Janak performed exceptionally well in his school leaving exam, and has enrolled in a 2-year management course. To increase his independence, Janak also took vocational training in driving and can now drive light vehicles. Working as a taxi driver means that he’s be able to support himself after he graduates from the YDP and gets started in his career in management. Janak is extremely excited by all the paths now open to him, and is enthusiastically planning his future.
He is not alone. All around the world, young people are reaping the benefits of being provided with education and skills. Sadly though, many youth do not have these opportunities, and their future job prospects remain extremely limited. They still face exploitation, poor working conditions, and the ever present risk of unemployment.
So today, on World Youth Skills Day, let us “renew our resolve” to provide young people with the tools to shape a better future for themselves. Who knows what they can achieve – if only they are given the chance.