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Sri Lanka’s proposal to establish a “World Youth Skills Day” adopted by the UN (online), 19 December 2014 - Yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus, a resolution, spearheaded by Sri Lanka, declaring 15th July as the World Youth Skills Day. Sri Lanka initiated this resolution, with the assistance of the G77 & China, to highlight at a global level, the importance of youth skills development. The goal is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth, including as a means of addressing the challenges of unemployment and under employment. This is the only resolution promoted by Sri Lanka at the UN in New York since 1999.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa mooted the idea of a UN Youth Skills Day in his address to the 68th Session of the UNGA in 2013. The proposal to designate a day for youth skills development was endorsed by both the youth and the policymakers, including Ministers, at the World Conference on Youth held in Colombo in May 2014. The ‘Colombo Declaration’ which was adopted by consensus, after detailed debate, called upon the United Nations to designate a day to highlight youth skills development to draw attention to the critical need for marketable skills. The successful adoption of this resolution by the UN General Assembly is a fulfillment of a commitment that was made by Sri Lanka to all youth around the world.

Sri Lanka has always advocated prioritizing youth, recognizing that “Youth should be at the heart of development”. Today, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development provides vocational training to approximately 25,000 young men and women a year through an island-wide network of vocational training centers. Additionally, with the establishment of the University of Vocational Technology and by the introduction of a vocational training curriculum to high schools, Sri Lanka has been able to reduce youth unemployment.

The resolution, endorsed by all UN regional groups, seeks to generate greater awareness of and discussion on the importance of technical, vocational education and training and the development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies. It is hoped that it will contribute to reducing unemployment and underemployment among the youth across the globe. Sri Lanka is pleased to contribute to the global efforts taken to address this growing problem by raising awareness of the need for skills development.

The Minster of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Hon. Dullas Alahapperuma, and the staff of the Ministry worked tirelessly to make this resolution a reality in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations. The UN Secretary - General’s Special Envoy for Youth, Mr. Ahmed Alhendawi, and his office supported this initiative from the early days, while the UN system in New York and Colombo were solidly behind it. (KH)


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