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World Youth Skills Day 2024: Unleashing Young Potential for Peace and Progress

As we mark World Youth Skills Day 2024, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history. The world around us is changing at a dizzying pace, presenting challenges that seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. Yet, in the face of these obstacles, I see an incredible opportunity – a chance to harness the boundless potential of our youth to forge a path towards peace and sustainable development.

This year's theme, "Youth Skills for Peace and Development," isn't just a catchy phrase. It's a call to action, a rallying cry for all of us to recognize the transformative power of young minds equipped with the right skills.

The Challenges We Face

Our world is grappling with numerous challenges that disproportionately affect young people:

  • Violent conflicts disrupting education and stability

  • A polarized online environment fostering negativity

  • Persistent economic inequality limiting opportunities

These issues not only threaten individual futures but also the overall stability of our societies. But here's the thing – these challenges don't define our youth. They ignite them.

I've seen it firsthand: young people with fire in their eyes and determination in their hearts, ready to tackle the world's problems head-on. They're not waiting for solutions; they're creating them.

Reimagining Skills for a New Era

Last year, we talked about bridging the “skills canyon.” This year, we need to go further. We need to reimagine what skills mean in a world crying out for peace and sustainable progress.

  • Peacebuilding as a Superpower: Imagine a generation fluent in conflict resolution, masters of intercultural dialogue. These aren't soft skills – they're the bedrock of a more harmonious world. 

  • Critical Thinking as a Weapon Against Hate: In an age of misinformation, the ability to discern truth from fiction isn't just valuable – it's vital. Let's arm our youth with the mental tools to cut through the noise and foster understanding. 

  • Global Networks as Bridges: The connections we make can transcend borders and break down barriers. Let's teach our youth to build networks that span cultures and ideologies, creating a web of global understanding. 

  • Entrepreneurship with a Conscience: The next generation of business leaders won't just chase profits – they'll pursue purpose. Let's nurture social entrepreneurs who see global challenges as opportunities to make a difference. 

  • Inclusivity as a Cornerstone: A peaceful world is an inclusive one. We must ensure that every young person, regardless of background, has access to the skills that will shape our future. 

  • Collaboration as a Catalyst: The ManpowerGroup-JA Worldwide partnership shows what's possible when we join forces. Let's build on this, creating a global ecosystem of learning that prepares youth not just for jobs, but for creating a better world. 

The Rise of the Specialists

In this rapidly evolving landscape, we're witnessing the rise of specialists – individuals with deep expertise in specific areas, problem-solvers who can navigate the complexities of a changing world. Imagine sustainability specialists pioneering solutions for a greener future or cybersecurity experts safeguarding businesses in the digital age.

At Manpower, we recognize the importance of talent specialization in driving success in the new world of work. Our talent agents and recruiters have deep knowledge and expertise in the sectors and roles they serve, allowing them to truly understand the unique skills and requirements of each position.

Specialization isn't just a trend; it's a strategic advantage. Companies that cultivate a specialized workforce are better equipped to embrace change, drive innovation, and enhance efficiency and productivity.

Yet, the rise of specialization doesn't diminish the value of well-rounded skills and adaptability. It's about finding your niche and developing a deep understanding of a particular field. This journey can be incredibly rewarding, offering career fulfillment, increased demand, and a love for lifelong learning.

A Personal Commitment to Youth Empowerment

As I reflect on the importance of World Youth Skills Day, I'm reminded of why this cause is so close to my heart. My role as a board member with JA Europe has given me a front-row seat to the incredible potential of our youth. It has reinforced my belief that investing in youth skills is the single most important thing we can do for our future. It's not just about economic prosperity; it's about creating a generation of young people who are equipped to build bridges, solve complex problems, and foster peace in their communities and beyond. Every day, I’m fortunate to witness the transformative power of equipping young people with the right skills and opportunities.

JA Europe's mission to prepare young people for employment and entrepreneurship resonates deeply with me. It's not just about creating workers; it's about nurturing innovators, leaders, and changemakers. Through our programs, I've seen shy teenagers blossom into confident public speakers, budding entrepreneurs turn their first profit, and young minds grasp complex global issues with remarkable insight.

But what truly inspires me is the resilience and adaptability of these young individuals. In a world that's changing faster than ever, they're not just keeping up – they're leading the charge. Their enthusiasm to tackle global challenges, their innate understanding of technology, and their commitment to creating a more sustainable and equitable world never ceases to amaze me. 

Igniting a Global Movement for Youth Empowerment

World Youth Skills Day 2024 is more than a date on the calendar—it's a catalyst for global transformation. It's a challenge to all of us – educators, employers, policymakers, and citizens – to invest in our youth not just as future workers, but as peacemakers, innovators, and leaders.

The future we're stepping into is limited only by our imagination and our willingness to act. So let's act. Let's invest in skills that don't just prepare young people for the jobs of tomorrow, but empower them to create the world they want to see. Mentor a young person, support youth-focused organizations, or advocate for policies that prioritize youth skills development.

We can build a generation that doesn't just adapt to change but drives it. A generation that doesn't just dream of peace, but has the skills to make it a reality. The future of work – and the future of our world – is in their hands. And I couldn't be more excited to see what they'll do with it.

About the Author

Riccardo Barberis was appointed Regional President, Northern Europe in May 2021. In this role, Barberis oversees all of ManpowerGroup's brands and offerings across the region – Manpower, Experis and Talent Solutions. Barberis will lay the path to further accelerate ManpowerGroup’s diversification, digitization and innovation plans, creating even more value for clients and candidates and strengthening our performance in the region. Barberis joined ManpowerGroup in 1998 and has held numerous leadership positions in Europe and Latin America, most recently as country manager for ManpowerGroup Italy. With 25 years of experience including many international roles his deep industry knowledge and passion for a client-first, candidate-centric approach consistently delivers superior results. Barberis holds an Executive MBA at Bocconi University (Milan), has accomplished management programs at INSEAD and speaks five languages. He currently serves as Board Member of Junior Achievement, Vice President of the Italian Industry Association, Assolavaro and President of ManpowerGroup's Human Age Institute. Barberis lives with his wife and three children in Milan.

Profile Photo of Riccardo Barberis