ECOSOC World Youth Forum: Statement by Ambassador Thoms at side event entitled “Skilled for excellence and development”
(as prepared for delivery:)
"Excellencies, distinguished delegates, dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor and pleasure to welcome all of you to the German House. The German Mission is hosting this side event on the vitally important subject of decent youth employment through technical and vocational education and training together with the Mission of Brazil, ILO and WorldSkills International.
The title of the event “Skilled for excellence and development” hints at the twofold aim of this side-event:
- First, we would like to identify technical and vocational training systems that help to create a labor force with the relevant skills needed for development. Young people who get out of school or training have to find a job or be enabled to start an enterprise themselves!
- Second, we would like to showcase the promotion of excellence in trades and crafts as well as the exceptional achievements of some young WorldSkills Champions from Germany, Brazil and Korea. Innovation that will help to promote development does not only take place in universities, but also in factories, workshops, and offices.
We are happy to gather different perspectives and approaches from several continents today as well as hearing ILO’s analyses based on its treasure trove of experience.
Policy advice is badly needed. I will not repeat the facts and figures that describe the youth employment situation. We heard them this morning. But I want to echo what many have said: a situation in which over 73 million young people are without employment worldwide and a world in which there is an insufficient supply of decent, formal, productive and safe work places for young people is not acceptable.
Young people deserve an adequate income, societal recognition and opportunities to develop their skills and economic potential. Societies and economies will not thrive if youth is left behind. Germany therefore wants youth employment and technical and vocational training and education to be an integral part of the Post-2015 agenda.
The good news is that there are ways that have already proven to be effective in improving the situation. Germany and Brazil will present their technical and vocational training and education systems and we hope that other countries with similar systems will share their experiences with us today.
In our view, vocational professions and skilled labor are the fundaments of society, innovation and economic prosperity. We are convinced that facilitating the transition from school to work and building a skilled labor force and an entrepreneurial basis is a societal challenge. This challenge requires focused and empowering labor market policies and skills development initiatives by all parts of society, including employers, employees and unions.
It is not easy and even though we have a long tradition in providing technical and vocational training that stretches over several centuries, continuing efforts need to be made. Every year at the end of the school year, we have to mobilize the private sector to offer new training contracts. 600,000 new contracts are needed on average each year. As young people stay for two to three years in the German dual system, up to 2 million training places are needed every year to build the skilled labor force we need.
Our “dual system” for technical and vocational training in combination with the “vocational training pact” have made it possible for Germany to currently have the lowest youth unemployment rate among EU member states.
It is clear that the whole system as it is cannot be reproduced by other countries, but what we can share is the sense of a societal and governmental duty to enable young people to engage in decent employment and to build a sustainable future.
What we hope to create with partners in the UN is the spirit of excellence and prestige that promotes the importance and diversity of vocational education.
Through events like this one, we can raise appreciation for trades and awareness of the contributions and cooperation that have to be built by the international community, national governments, educational institutions and social partners to succeed in this undertaking.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have to reinstall the confidence of a generation to take their lives into their own hands and realize their full potential as workers, as well as citizens of this world. And I am sure that after listening to the young WorldSkills Champions we will all be even more motivated to make sure that we don’t lose this generation of talented young people.
Thank you very much for your attention. I wish you an interesting discussion."