"What is the greatest global challenge facing youth, and how can American youth help to address it?"
UNICEF announced in The State of the World’s Children 2011, “almost half of the world’s adolescents of appropriate age do not attend secondary school.” Amongst the youth that do attend, a significant number of them never complete their studies, or finish with
“insufficient skills.” Amongst these insufficient skills are especially “high-level competencies that are increasingly required” by our globalized and modern economy. The greatest global challenge facing youth today is the scarcity of appropriate skills combined with an inadequate amount of work opportunities. Hence, adolescents are constantly being denied a future that includes stable and rewarding work. In the International Labour Organization’s 2010 latest edition Global Employment Trends for Youth, youth unemployment has stood at 12 per cent in 2008. Meanwhile, the youth population has “grown at a faster pace than the available employment opportunities.” The economic crisis has resulted in the largest unemployment cohort amongst youth at an estimated rate of 81 million in 2009 (UNICEF).
As a result there is a lack of formal employment opportunities and many youth are seeking alternative means to earn a living. This has led more youth towards operating “on the margins of more dangerous and illegal activities, from organized crime to prostitution.”
American youth must step up to the challenge to turn these statistics into memories. We must invest, globally, in the skills of adolescents. In America, notable figures such as Bill Gates have already begun to change these statistics by providing communications and information technologies to help people globally accelerate skills and knowledge acquisition. Bill Gates has started an initiative in which college professors put videos of their courses on the Internet for free so anyone around the world can learn. This helps youth to acquire the skills to gain employment that will enable them to find stable working conditions. Google is
currently working in various parts of Africa to install Internet for free. American youth can address this issue of unemployment by continuing at a larger scale to put knowledge on the Internet. For example, American youth can put up free English, algebra, and basic computer programming courses online for students in places from South Africa to China to watch and learn the critical skills to help them compete for better employment opportunities.
American youth need to think about how they can reach people on a global scale. Youth helping youth on a global scale requires social media. American youth can spread awareness of the lack of global employment opportunities through social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and through personal blogging and online documentaries and videos. This is a powerful source of information that can increase activism, aid, and volunteer work dedicated to helping youth gain more employment and educational opportunities. For example, I founded Destination College, an organization that helps students globally by teaching them skills to increase SAT/ACT scores, and how to apply for scholarships, financial aid, and colleges through the use of the Internet. I also write for a non-profit called BetterGrads.org and the Princeton’s Business Today Online Journal, to increase the level of activism concerning inequalities youth face. Hundreds of people read my articles on these website. Technology gives the masses access to a wealth of information.
Technology gives youth the power and skills to change lives by creating awareness and, ultimately, solutions to the growing level of unemployment amongst youth.