Y20 summit highlights unemployment and youth in workplace 

Panelists during Day 2 of the Y20 Summit highlighted the need to avoid leaving behind certain marginalized groups. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 October 2020

Y20 summit highlights unemployment and youth in workplace 

RIYADH: The role of young people in the workplace and youth unemployment were among the main topics under the microscope on the second day of the Y20 Summit, the three-days focus on tackling the global challenges facing today’s youth, ahead of the G20 summit which kicks off on Nov. 21.

Under the theme “Future Fit”, speakers discussed the employment landscape in a post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) world, and what can be done to reverse alarming trends that have left almost one in five young people out of work or without access to education.

The opening panel, titled “Future Fit Starts Today”, focused on workforce inequality, exacerbated by a digital divide, unequal and limited access to mentoring, skills mismatch, rapid technological developments, a growing city-rural gap, and the semi-permanent impact of the ongoing pandemic. 

Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, the 2010 Nobel Prize laureate in economics and regius chair of economics at the London School of Economics, highlighted the problems that come with the methods of traditional educational institutions.

“I would agree they are not preparing (students) adequately for the new types of jobs now,” he told moderator Tanya Beckett. “Sometimes they specialize too much. By specializing too much, too soon, young people will say I learnt these skills very well so I will wait to get a job that will enable me to utilize these skills. That is not the right approach.”

Governments and policymakers were urged to be part of the solution.

“Right now the circumstances are a bit severe, because there is a general slowdown of economic activity, there’s a lot of disruption,” said Alex Liu, managing partner and chairman of consulting firm Kearney. “The problem that we need to solve is a collective problem. It’s a combination of forces, private and public sector, policymakers as well as companies, the financial community, the entrepreneurial community.”

He added: “I think there are many examples around the world throughout history, that if these forces come together, you can build a Silicon Valley. You can build an east Asian juggernaut with many subcomponents of that. You have Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 where you have mobilized all the resources to succeed, to be able to create an environment of job creation and job excitement.”

In an official message titled “Youth Today, Workforce and Citizens Tomorrow”, Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, spelled out the challenges the world’s youth face in the workforce, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to connect every school and community in the world to the internet,” she said. “As we speak, half of humanity is not connected to the internet, including 360 million children and young people. We want to change that. By the end of 2025 we want to reach two million schools and approximately 500 million children and young people, and we’re gathering partners like the World Bank and the European Investment Bank around this need.”

A panel on “Youth Roadmap 2025” discussed how this new policy by the G20 countries is committed to reducing youth unemployment. With many stakeholders involved, expectations are high.

Dr. Ahmed Alzahrani, Saudi deputy minister of human resources and social development, said: “One of the messages that we have in our youth roadmap is the focus on social dialogue, especially with relevant employment departments and youth organizations and also with individual young people voicing the challenges they are facing in the labor market.”

He added: “We also emphasized investment in high-quality, cost-effective employment and social services. We need to realize this in a continuously changing world.”

In post-COVID-19 landscape, certain marginalized groups should not be left behind, the panelists highlighted.

Martha E. Newton, deputy director general for policy at the International Labour Organization, said: “We’re seeing gender inequality in this crisis. Young women are disproportionately carrying the burden of care work, of not being able to continue at school, of having to help at home.”

She added: “As we continue to move forward on these issues, the challenge for us is going to be able to make sure that young women and men have access to employment. We can’t lose all the momentum that we’ve had since 2015.”

Nearly half of young people surveyed in the Global Youth Index believe that the most important factor contributing to youth empowerment is a robust startup ecosystem supporting entrepreneurship, with more than two-thirds hoping to someday start their own business. 

Another panel titled “Future Entrepreneur — Future Fit-for-Success” explored how young people can develop their entrepreneurial mindset to solve issues, as well as how governments can create the necessary environment to drive people to launch their own initiatives.

Geoffrey See, a Y20 delegate and entrepreneur from Singapore, said: “It’s the best of times and worst of times for entrepreneurs everywhere. It’s best of times if you’re in the right ecosystem today, getting funding, getting an idea off the ground, getting the kind of support and learning you need. There are places where you can do that very well. But in most places in the world, they don’t have that ecosystem. And with COVID-19 it’s even harder for people to take big risks in life. There’s a lot that has to be done to (encourage) entrepreneurship.”

The final expert panel, “Youth at Work: Matching Skills and Jobs for 3.8 Billion,” tackled the issue of how young people today are at higher risk of labor market exclusion, with 44 million unemployed young people and insufficient job creation levels in G20 countries.

Prof. Mohammed Alhayaza, president of Saudi Arabia’s Alfaisal University, said: “Several recent articles have sought to answer what skills will adults need to be successful in employment? Let alone in order to work alongside Artificial Intelligence (AI).”

He added: “The short answer is that we need to focus on developing the skills we possess that AI and machines cannot replicate. Skills that can be most advanced by education and training programs.”

The third day of Y20 Summit will focus on the concept of global citizenship and challenges related to multiculturalism and sustainable development, and how to get young people to make the first commitment toward sharing, working and acting collectively.


Saudi Arabia turns to ‘digital health’ amid outbreak

Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. (SPA)
Updated 28 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Arabia turns to ‘digital health’ amid outbreak

  • Health Ministry reports 217 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s health sector has accelerated  its digital transformation during the coronavirus pandemic, paving the way  for future projects to expand and improve services in  the Kingdom.
The Kingdom’s health minister, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, highlighted the ministry’s efforts during the HIMSS and Health 2.0 Middle East Digital Health Conference and Exhibition on Sunday, a joint collaboration with the ministry, the Saudi Health Council and the Saudi Commission for Heath Specialities.
“Saudi Arabia has taken digital health as a priority for the development of health services,” he said.
“A number of projects have been launched such as the ‘Mawid’ app that allows users to book (medical) appointments. More than 14 million users have registered in the app and more than 60 million appointments have been made through it.”
The minister added that services provided in recent months have greatly helped both citizens and the health sector. Communication between doctors and patients has increased, cutting time for dispensing medications.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly told a press conference on Sunday that residents are playing a major role in curbing the spread of the virus by adhering to health protocols.
A total of 217 new cases were recorded on Sunday, bringing the total in the Kingdom to 357,128.

FASTFACTS

357,128 Total cases

346,409 Recoveries

Al-Aly said that health breaches in a number of provinces in the Riyadh, Makkah and Jazan regions have led to a slight increase in cases, prompting authorities to cite violators for ignoring protocols.
In total, 12,855 violations have been recorded in the past week, with the highest number in Makkah with 3,290 violations, followed by Qassim with 1,980 and Riyadh with 1,956. Meanwhile, 386 new recoveries have been recorded, raising the total number to 346,409. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is almost 97 percent.
A total of 14 new deaths have been recorded, raising the overall toll to 5,884. For the first time in more than seven months, the number of active cases has dropped below the 5,000 mark. There are currently 4,835 active cases, including 674 in critical care. Of the active cases, 418 are in Riyadh, 259 in Madinah, 254 in Hofuf, and 212 in Makkah.