As the pandemic continues to rage across the country and its economic fallout is already starkly manifested, young people are facing unprecedented uncertainty. Will they get jobs with their existing skills? Will they find new employment after being laid off? Will existing young entrepreneurs be able to survive? Should aspiring entrepreneurs abandon their dreams? Most of all, will they have the right skills to survive in a post-pandemic scenario? In an effort to address these crucial issues, The Daily Star Youth Summit 2020, on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day, invited over 60 speakers to a series of webinars on July 15. And one of the key messages that came out of the summit was that young people have to adapt to the technological demands of these extraordinary times.
Innovation, of course, is the overriding theme to survival and this was reiterated by many of the industry leaders, successful young entrepreneurs and human resources experts invited to the event.
The growing digitisation of the business process demands advanced technological skills. Thus, there is a huge need for training in skills like data analysis, web design, coding, artificial intelligence, blockchain and so on. Moreover, the orientation to technology must start at an early age from school, and so schools must be equipped with the resources to provide such learning. At the university level, too, training in these skills has to be made available. No doubt this requires huge investment and commitment especially in the public educational institutions where IT learning is very limited or, as in many cases, non-existent.
At the policy level, there has to be a major push to promote and provide training in technological skills that are demanded in the job market—now and post-pandemic. While the government has already initiated programmes for such IT skills training, these have to be accelerated and made more widespread to positively affect the millions of young people in this country. Access to internet, computers and smartphones and making these tools affordable must be a priority for the government. The government, IT sector, and the private sector in general must all work together to provide the environment for young people to acquire these skills, apply them effectively, and be able to find employment with them. In the present era, the scope for self-learning is limitless but it requires access to technology.
It is true that the pandemic has led to a huge number of job losses for young people. But it has also created a demand for a workforce that is tech-savvy and innovative. And it is the young people who have the resilience to learn the skills needed to become the problem-solvers of the future.