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World Skills Youth Day: Speech by the Minister of Higher Education Dr. Brian Mushimba
July 19, 2020 at 15:20

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Country Men and Women

Zambia joins the rest of the world in commemorating the World Youth Skills Day on 15th July, 2020. In 2014 the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. The theme for this Year’s World Youth Skills Day is: “Skills Keep the Economy Moving” which is emphasizing on the importance of skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This theme also supports the 2020 international theme for World Youth Skills Day “Skills for a Resilient Youth”.

World Youth Skills Day provides a unique opportunity for dialogue between young people, skills development  institutions such as colleges and universities, the private sector,  policy makers and development partners.

We are cognisant of the ever-increasing significance of skills as the world is embarking on a transition towards a sustainable model of development. This is the reason why This Government of the Republic of Zambia, under the leadership of His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, in its 7th National Development Plan recognizes the need for improved education and skills development as instrumental in developing the youth and creating societies that are better able to respond to social and economic development challenges they face.

This year, COVID-19 pandemic has resulted lockdown measures, leading to economic recession, disruption of education and closure of Higher Education Institutions, and businesses at national and global levels.  This has threatened continuity of skills development, including all forms of work based learning, such as apprenticeships and internships. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimated that nearly 70% of the world’s learners were affected by school closures across various education levels by early May 2020.

The economic recession that has resulted from the COVID-19 crisis is causing a massive rise in unemployment and underemployment, as more than one in six young people have stopped working since the onset of COVID-19 according to the international labor organization’s (ILO) estimates. The socio-economic impact can have a long-lasting impact on incomes and livelihoods.

Without living anyone behind, the Government of the Republic of Zambia is doing everything possible to ensure that the youth are provided with an enabling environment to confront the challenges of COVID 19.  Skills development plays a big part in fostering the resilience of young people.  Hence, it is crucial for Government and all stakeholders to ensure the continuity of skills development, especially through distance and blended learning, to guarantee the safety of staff in the education and training workforce and provide continuity to all learners including apprentices and interns and those wishing to up skill and reskill.

One of the priority areas for the SADC technical skills development Strategy for 2018 to 2027 is a regional approach to developing and improving technical and vocational training addressing issues to do with Quality Assurance, Curriculum Review and Development, Assessments and Certification, Qualifications Frameworks and developing skills for a Green Economy. Member States have collaborated to develop and coordinate their efforts in the above areas. Zambia as a member state of SADC is committed to ensuring that the technical skills development system in Zambia expands and provides the requisite skills despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The technical skills development sector, of which my Ministry is the lead, seeks to ensure that Fast-track skills training programmes are implemented to support quick economic recovery. My Ministry is supporting Innovative digital technologies that support skills and entrepreneurship development despite the challenges that the COVID 19 pandemic has presented. These programmes are being implemented within the context of the Seventh National Development Plan and the Vision 2030 for Zambia.

As we celebrate the World Youth Skills Day let us keep in mind that “Skills Keep the Economy Moving”. Without appropriate skills, the economy will shrink and competitors from the region and outside the region will have an advantage over our youths. We need to ensure that relevant skills that address local, regional and international needs are imparted on to youths to make them competitive today and tomorrow.

According to the World bank report 2020, and I quote “Low skills perpetuate poverty and inequality. Skills development can reduce unemployment, raise incomes and improve standards of living. Helping young people to develop skills makes economic sense”. A number of activities to the World Youth Skills Day, have been taking place in the last week. It is my great honour and pleasure to officially launch the World Youth Skills Day 2020.  I thank you and God bless you!