In our rapidly changing, hyper-connected world, the information and communication technology (ICT) industry is driving economic growth, innovation, and job creation. More than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills, and experts say that percentage will increase to 77 percent in the next decade.
However, a significant percentage of the world’s youth are being left behind. Young people age 15 to 24 represent 17 percent of the global population, but make up 40 percent of the world’s unemployed or 73 million young people. Despite these alarming unemployment statistics among young job-seekers, employers worldwide say they often cannot find people with the right skills needed to meet their business objectives, especially when they are recruiting for technology-related jobs.
For youth, developing technology skills that align with market demand greatly increases their chances of securing employment and achieving career success. In addition, for young entrepreneurs, technology skills and access to technology greatly improve productivity, help lower costs, and advance their businesses into higher value-added activities, thus enhancing their market competitiveness.
For enterprises, having well-qualified, technology-savvy talent results in higher productivity, faster growth, and expansion. And for nations, balancing the supply and the demand for technology skills leads to economic and social stability and overall prosperity.
Blerta is the first girl in the Kosovo’s IT sector to ever win a grant to work on a computer application. Since then, she established Girls Coding Kosova in February 2014. Earlier this year, Girls Coding Kosova teamed up with Open Data Kosovo and USAID to develop #EcShlirë (meaning “walk freely” in Albanian), a mobile application for reporting sexual harassment in real time.
Standing in line to sign up for the Digital Youth Summit in Peshawar this May, I struck up a conversation with a young woman from Peshawar. I was pleasantly surprised by her level of interest and eagerness in participating at the tech conference. She was keen to develop an app that would allow her to sell home-based food products at a national level. She had already gathered a group of friends who would work with her on different aspects of task planning and implementation. Her enthusiasm was palpable and infectious.
According to the World Bank Development Report on Digital Dividends (2016), the rapid spread of digital technologies around the world is boosting economic growth and expands opportunities in many instances; but the benefits of technological changes are not evenly distributed to workers globally. For high-skilled workers, technology in most cases complements their skills, increases their productivity, and often leads to higher wages.
The Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit is a global convening that brings together 500+ leading stakeholders from 55 countries to connect, exchange, and collaborate. Now in its 11th year, the Summit is the largest convening of its kind in North America for the youth economic opportunities community.