Youth Call to Action at the #ADBSkillsDevForum

Asian Development Bank Skills For Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific

12 December 2013

We, the youth participants of the 3rdInternational Skills Development Forum gathered on 10th-12th December 2013 in Manila, Philippines,

strongly believe that the time has come for the international community to work together to make the world of decent work accessible to all, where every young person can avail equal opportunities.

Youth face clear and distinct issues that impede them from making informed career choices, reaching their full potential, and living a happy and successful life. In the Asia-Pacific region, 6 out of 10 young people have no jobs, are not in school, or are engaged in irregular employment. We, the youth of the region, struggle in an environment that has fostered skills mismatch, urban and rural divide, weak youth entrepreneurship, and unsecure jobs in both the formal and informal sector. If this continues, current and future generations will be confined to a poorer quality of life and remembered as the lost generation.

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We recognise the impact ICT has on revolutionising opportunities for youth.

To reverse the current trends,youth must be educated, empowered, and engaged. We commit ourselves to:

1.    Develop and encourage extra-curricular activities and youth-inspired opportunities that enable youth to practice life skills and leadership; 

2.    Participate and execute peer-to-peer mentorships for personal growth and career guidance;  

3.    Organise youth-friendly job fairs, especially on green and ICT-based jobs;

4.    Patronise and promote youth-led enterprises;

5.    Organise and execute a youth-led dialogue that brings together youth, government and private sector to talk about issues on employment;

6.    Advocate and serve as a resource to the international institutions and labor ministries on the need for a public information dissemination campaign about decent work; 

In addition to the specific actionable items that the youth will undertake, we call upon the following stakeholders to seriously consider the following recommendations:

·     We encourage greater and more meaningful collaboration between youth, relevant government ministries, and private sector.

·     We encourage greater collaboration between private sector and education institutions in curriculum-design and career-guidance. 

·     We encourage greater emphasis on entrepreneurship in all levels of formal and non-formal education, and making youth-friendly financial resources accessible.

·     We encourage incentives for businesses that promote decent work opportunities for youth.

·     We urge the private sector to stand up and be the face of change in making digital literacy accessible to rural youth.

·     We encourage government and private agencies to include youth advisors in programs and policies that impact youth.

We applaud the Asian Development Bank and Plan International for their continued commitment to inclusive dialogue. We call upon the international community to intensify its commitment to deliver its promise of decent work and equitable opportunities for youth in the Asia-Pacific region.

My Top 10 Lessons From The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum

by Mark Delgado

I am more than grateful to God to be invited to the 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum. 

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Getting ready for the morning session on Day 2

 

It was unplanned and was certainly a “last minute” decision. But when I was there for two days, the whole conference astounded me. Prior to joining the forum, I was just a regular young professional weaving dreams for himself, his family and for the people around him. I said to myself, “I’d like to create my own e-learning program or a website that shall promote work-at-home opportunities.” And then I was invited to the forum. And the forum pushes for ICT-based solutions (I am a digital marketing professional, by the way.).

Boom! For me, it was more than just hitting the jackpot. 

I came to the forum as a dreamer. I went out as a changed man. All the more my fervor for pushing for e-learning, e-commerce and online job opportunities became stronger. Suddenly, I progressed from being a mere idealist to a man filled with purpose. Suddenly, my decision to leave a comfortable job in a big telco company in the Philippines made sense. Suddenly, all those sleepless nights I spent just to attend classes and finish my projects from my first e-learning certification program on digital marketing paid off. Suddenly, it’s magic. (Is that a song?)

Seriously, I’d like to thank all the people behind the 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum including my awesome co-delegates from the Philippines and abroad. (Woot! Woot!) I have already written my 5 best takeaways from the first day of the forum but still those weren’t enough. Below are some of the few more things that I’d like to add on the list.

1. The promise of emerging industries. 

I jolted at the mention of 3D printing during the forum. How can that be mentioned here? Oh yes, it’s one of the emerging trends in the industry right now, I know. But what are the chances? A week before the forum, I was just talking to an IT company that needs a Digital Marketing Consultant to promote their personal and industrial 3D printers. I thought to myself that this can be the toughest project I will ever take in my entire career. Who wants a 3D printer inside their homes? But when the Business Development Manager started to brief me, I became excited. There is a huge market for 3D printers for architects, designers, hobbyists, homemakers students and others.

What’s the catch?

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Booth of the youth delegates at #ADBSkillsDevForum

 

Just when you thought that you already know a lot of things about the world where you live, you are already wrong. There is so much to discover and know about the world around us especially on those emerging industries that pose a huge promise of more job opportunities for more people. 

My challenge for my fellow youth delegates is to stay open to possibilities and stop limiting themselves. Let us always be on a lookout for those emerging industries that give hope to more people in the areas of jobs and training. Change is constant. If you intend to stay in the same place forever, you pose a danger to yourself. But if you stay awake and hopeful for the promise of the future, you will win.

2. The burden of the ICT guy.

Being the only participant who is not directly attached with any NGO, it somehow made me an accidental participant. But it also made all the difference.

I represented the community that I started around 2-3 years ago called Bloggers 4 Change Network. It is a community of bloggers who are passionate about using social media for social responsibility.

Being pro-ICT, I carried the burden of sharing my experiences as a Digital Marketing Consultant. I always say that I am a product of e-learning and online jobs. I recently resigned from my corporate job as a Senior Community Manager for Globe Telecom because I see more opportunities online. And not just more opportunities, but better opportunities. The ocean is blue and the grasses are green on that side of the world.

This is what I had been rallying about since Day 1. Honestly, my jaw dropped a bit when only 2 people ticked “Digital Jobs/Apps” from among the many issues that we want to tackle as a group. But I can totally understand this as I may be the only one directly involved in the ICT industry. 

 

I can look at it in 2 perspectives. One side is saying that ICT is not one of the biggest burdens of my co-delegates. On the other hand, that there are still lots of opportunities to educate them about it. I am so glad that I am not the only voice who is pushing for ICT-based solutions. From the real-time poll tallying to the discussions among the adult delegates from other nations, the words “digital”, “ICT”, “social media” and “virtual” were never missed. My only sincere hope is that may there be a concrete action plan that will highly involve ICT-based solutions as an enabler towards achieving the goal of providing more training and job opportunities for the youth.

3. On starting somewhere, starting small and starting soon.

A few days back, I tweeted that the year 2013 was the year for startups and that the year 2014 will be the year for storytellers. I haven’t changed my mind about it yet.

 

This year, I’ve met the most number of startup founders in my entire life. One is involved in online advertising, the others are in digital marketing and the other one is in wire transfer of payments. Next year, they will be celebrating their first years (hopefully they make it 365 days in the Philippines) and then they shall be telling their stories — especially for other aspiring startupreneurs’ consumption.

I believe in starting somewhere, starting small and starting really soon. I believe that the increase in number of startups being build in the Philippines and in the world is mostly ICT-driven. Internet created more opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals. It also made starting a business a lot easier. Hopefully more and more people will be enticed to explore the potential of the Internet to become a source of development and livelihood to many.

 

4. On guiding the young ones.

I admire the youth delegates from Vietnam and the Philippines — Quy and Luigi. Quy talked about the need for properly guiding the youth on what career to pursue. Luigi mentioned about the time when people of our age threw themselves to pursuing nursing just because it was “in-demand” during that time.

I have been longing to ask these burning questions.

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Ms. Nash Tysmans looks ready in her cheongsam

Is being in-demand for a job enough? Are we not supposed to take jobs based on our strengths and interests? Who should give career guidance? What can we do in order to resolve these problems?

You might be interested to know that from the poll conducted during the 2nd day of the forum, the delegates are more concerned with “the youth not being able to get the job that they want” than “the youth not getting any jobs at all”.

This can be the reason why Quy and Luigi brought up the issue of acquiring proper career guidance in career, more than acquiring a job itself. I believe that this calls for a more responsible media reporting, parenting and teaching for the young ones.

5. Don’t forget the kids!

On Day 2, we were outnumbered by the adult delegates and stayed only in one corner of the ADB Auditorium. But this did not stop us from being heard. Quy and Luigi talked in front of the stage and “refused to concede that the youth cannot make a dent in the world”. We blogged, Facebook-ed, Instagramm-ed and tweeted our viewpoints. We seated with the adult delegates during lunch and break times. Basically, we did everything for our voices to be heard by them and never allowed that chance to pass us by.

One of the panelists encouraged participation from the youth during the onset of the program. They wanted us to speak up and ask questions more. When he said that, I knew that something wonderful is about to happen on the 2nd day.

6. Becoming The Apprentice.

The first grand winner of The Apprentice Asia is from the Philippines. I am so proud of Jonathan Yabut. How did he bested the participants from other Asian countries? It was amazing and inspiring.

I envy him. During my college years, I never had the chance to become an intern in a company. Right after college, I never thought how unprepared I was for the corporate world.

I wonder how many young people like me had experienced what I did. Do they still have good chances of getting good jobs even without internship opportunities? Even if they do, are they prepared enough to survive and become regularized?

I may be very blessed because of the many training I had undergone that somehow augmented to my lack of internship experience in a company. I still believe though that real-world training outside school is very important. 

I hope that in the coming days, this issue may be touched and be provided for an action plan to provide more internship opportunities for students to become more prepared in the real world.

7. Majority thinks. 

During the forum, we conducted a poll from among the participants. The results might interest you. Here is the summary.

 

  • Majority thinks that the youth are not getting the jobs they aspire for.
  • Majority thinks that the training is not relevant to the jobs.
  • Majority thinks that there enough internship programs available.
  • Majority thinks that mobile is the most common mode of accessing the Internet.
  • Majority thinks we are ready for the kind of environment that uses the Internet for education/employment.
  • Majority thinks that young people use social media to look for jobs.
  • Majority thinks that using a combination of online and offline methods in teaching is the best option to choose. 
  • Majority thinks there are only little entrepreneurship training available. 
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Quy (left) from Vietnman and me

8. The great mismatch.

I have been hearing the word “skills mismatch” a lot during the forum — from my fellow youth delegates to the adult ones. They said that the available skills of the youth today are not anymore relevant to the needs of the industry. This made me think somehow that the problem is not really in the scarcity of jobs, scarcity of required skills.

Even in my own world, the online world, the problem is not the lack of jobs. There lots of jobs. But are there enough people who have the skills needed to do the job? Also, is there enough information dissemination about these available online jobs? 

No. There are not enough people who have the skills needed to do online jobs such as digital marketing, graphics designing, website designing and etc. These skills are highly specialized and not too many schools offer these courses. 

No. There are also not enough promotion and support for online jobs. Not too many of my peers have accounts on Elance, Freelancer and Odesk yet. Not too many of my peers too aspire to become an online professional like me. Most of them still want to stick to the traditional jobs offline. Most of the adult ones may be all the more unaware of these kind of opportunities online since the young ones are more active than them online. What we need is more support in promoting these online opportunities to more people.

Indonesia and the Philippines are among the top 10 users of social media in the world. This speaks a lot about the Internet usage of many Asians. I believe that promoting these online opportunities would not be very difficult to achieve.

9. The intriguing relationship of tourism and employment.

I remember the slogan of the former Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines. He said, “Kapag may turismo, may trabaho.” English: “If there’s tourism, there are jobs.”

Yesterday, a representative from the Department of Tourism spoke to us about their current initiatives in training and developing the Filipinos for jobs created through tourism. 

This made me realize how much we should be supporting our country’s tourism as it seems to have a direct relationship with job creation. Beauty and leisure must not be underestimated. For a less developed country like the Philippines, we may not boast of our modern infrastructures and technology that much. But we can definitely boast of our natural beauty and tourist spots that developed countries look for.

It’s all about focusing on one’s strengths. Upon recognizing a country’s competitive advantage over the others, I believe that’s where opportunities begin. 

10. Completing the ecosystem.

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Mr. Luigi De Vera to represent the Philippine delegation on Day 2

 

In the challenge of creating jobs and developing the skills of the youth, the participation of everybody is highly needed. 

 

This is not just the fight of the government nor the academe. Definitely, the youth cannot just do this on their own. I believe that the participation of the private sector, civil society and NGOs are needed more than ever. 

I thank the Asian Development Bank for creating this platform where a meaningful dialogue from among the stakeholders may be started and concrete action plans may be implemented towards developing the skills of the youth and providing jobs for them.

The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum runs from December 9 to 12, 2013 at ADB Headquarters in Manila. To participate online, please use the hashtags #ADBSkillsForDevForum #AsianYouth #Skills4Youth.

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Follow @ADBandNGOs on Twitter and fb.com/ADBandNGOs for more updates.

 

 

My 5 Best Takeaways From #ADBSkillsDevForum – Day 1

By Mark Delgado 

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1. The important role of the Internet. From the brainstorming sessions to the real-time polling, I have been hearing the words such as “digital apps”, “digital jobs”, “e-commerce”, “e-learning”, “ICT”, “online jobs”, “social media” and the like. As an online professional, it’s good to know that my peers all over the region are now more open to ICT-based initiatives as solutions to problems such as youth unemployment. I myself is a product of ICT-based initiatives. Not only that I am an online professional, I also completed my certification as a blog and social media entrepreneur through an e-learning-led program designed by Ateneo de Manila University and DigitalFilipino.com. Deep inside me, there is a burning passion to tell the whole world that digital is the way to go and that in my world, there are so many available jobs for the Asian youth. Also, what I don’t understand is that the Philippines and Indonesia are among the top 10 users of social media in the whole world. Are we really not aware of these online jobs? Is this an issue of a mismatch between the available jobs and the available skills of the Asian youth? Is this an issue along the lines of formal and informal jobs?

I am parking these questions for now. I know that these will somehow be answered in the next few days of the forum. But one thing’s sure for me – if we want something new, let’s do something new. Exploring the many possibilities that the online world can offer as an enabler is a good action point to begin with.

2. The power of brevity. I had been to many local and international forums, especially in leadership and marketing. I can say that people generally love to express themselves through words. But talking does not necessarily mean productivity. This is what I appreciate the most in #Skills4Youth forum. Having only a few hours in a day, we know we cannot just talk. We need to arrive at action points. This led us to agreeing on a specific framework to follow and then crowdsource our responses to it through online. My peers in #Skills4Youth forum appreciate simplicity, speed and technology – some of the things often neglected before as people tend to focus more on making the discussions more “complete” and “participative”. But efficiency is also a measure of success and time is a very important element. I am very glad that we started it out right on Day 1.

3. The 5W Proposal. I have discovered a new proposal framework during the #Skills4Youth forum. Let’s take a look at the 5 Ws one by one.

  • Why? – Rationale or the issues you want resolved
  • What? – Action points
  • Who? – Partners, stakeholders, supporters
  • When? – Timeline
  • What does success look like? – Outcome

The framework may look very simple as it only has 5 questions – a far cry from your college thesis, yes, but I believe that this is what also made it very powerful. At this day and age, where innovation is almost made equivalent to simplifying things, making things complicated has become obsolete. We are now entering the age of Twitter (cutting your shoutouts to 149 chars.) and iPhone (having just 1 button on your phone).

Undeniably, the 5W Proposal is a breath of fresh air. When it was laid down to the group during the brainstorming session, there was a sudden gush excitement and thrill within the group. We know that by having a direction (and having a simple one) will allow us to accomplish more.

4. On starting small and becoming solution-oriented. I appreciated it when John Trew encouraged us to become solution-focused and to start small. One of the fears that I have when attending big forums such as the #Skills4Youth is that we may get trapped in creating motherhood statements after long discourses of what the problem is all about, and without much forward movement. I am very glad that we are focusing more on the solutions rather than on the status quo. I believe is the reason why the forum was created in the first place — to focus on action points. In business, we often use The Business Model Canvas by Business Model Generation when we create plans. Perhaps, it will help us immensely if we can adapt the canvas and transform it into something that can be used by NGOs. To download The Business Model Canvas, please visit http://businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas.

5. Genuine concern of the youth. I appreciate all of my co-delegates especially the ones from our neighboring countries in Asia. We have one delegate from China who experienced being a farmer and had a hard time acquiring education in her country. This is despite China being an economic superpower today. Another one is from Vietnam who used to work from 7am to 10pm every single day. I was astonished by their stories. I never realized how blessed I am with the opportunities that I have right now until I met them. I know that I can never work in a farm nor work 15 hours a day. But these are the stories that they brought from their countries to the ADB #Skills4Youth forum.

Through them I was able to see the genuine concern of the youth for their fellow youth who are unemployed/uneducated. It’s because they had experienced the brunt of it themselves. My prayer is that their stories be heard by more people in the world, especially by my fellow Filipino youth, and realize how serious the repercussions are of being unemployed/uneducated. The premise is simple. If you are unemployed/uneducated, you are hungry. If you are hungry, you become more vulnerable to much more serious problems such as crimes, drug addiction, prostitution and etc.

We are done with Day 1 and we are now moving on to Day 2. Changing the world, I know, is not an easy task but I am grateful because something is being done. I am very glad that as a youth, I am at season of my life where I can see the problems more clearly, being at the forefront of the world and at the same time, have the strength to work with my fellow youth towards finding solutions and creating action points.

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Below are some of the interesting keywords that I have picked out from the youth delegation in ADB #Skills4Youth forum.

  • Enterprise
  • Skills mismatch
  • Informal and formal
  • Rural and urban
  • Mentorship
  • Lack of institutional support
  • Surplus of professionals
  • Skills development
  • Education system
  • Rural opportunities
  • Incapacitated education system
  • Education opportunities
  • Indigenous people
  • Top social media users
  • Skills
  • Supply and demand of labor
  • Lack of policies
  • Inadequate financial and technical support
  • E-commerce
  • Online jobs
  • Agriculture
  • ICT
  • Market-driven opportunities
  • Education
  • Entrepreneur
  • Micro-financing

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The 2013 ADB International Skills Development Forum is scheduled to take place from 09 to 12 December 2013. For live updates and to join the discussions, follow the hashtags #AsianYouth and #Skills4Youth.