Our Perspectives

Skills training is a pathway to economic growth for all


women attend their first day of classKosovan women attend their first day of classes at the BUTGEM vocational training centre in Bursa, Turkey. Photo: Yuksel Cetin

Fatos Hasolli can’t find a job, despite having a university degree in engineering. The Kosovan young man, in his mid-20s, decided his best option is to leave Kosovo* and find a job elsewhere.

His story is shared by thousands of Kosovan youth who, according to the World Bank, face a 60% unemployment rate.

But Hasolli’s story is not only found in Kosovo: it has become a global trend for both developed and developing countries. Today, over thirteen percent of young people can’t find a job in North America. In the Middle East that number increases to one in four youth, and in Spain one in two. Meanwhile, the global unemployment rate for all ages is below 5 percent.

Reports suggest 600 million new jobs are needed in the next 15 years to be able to integrate youth into the workforce. At the same time, businesses report that they do not have adequate access to skilled human resources, especially for technical and vocational jobs. Forty percent of employers can't fill entry-level jobs, while 45 percent of youth are in jobs that don't use their skills.

The recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes the right to education and training and the quest to overcome unemployment as part of its goals.

We at UNDP’s Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development have worked and will continue to work to meet these goals.

Thanks to the support of the Turkish government, we are working with stakeholders globally to create and improve skills development partnerships, and thus help close the gap between the skills youth gain through training and those employers need.

The private sector is an especially important partner: their expertise and experience ensures that skills taught in training centres meet industry standards. Their innovation and technology helps to create more effective training methods.

BUTGEM, a vocational training centre in Turkey, is a great example of how skills development succeeds in helping trainees become more competitive in the labour market.

Created and financed by a local business support organization, Bursa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BUTGEM leads vocational skills courses in various sectors like textile, mechatronics, and computer software and hardware.
İlker Şener, an ambitious 25-year-old, is one of BUTGEM’s successful former trainees. He was interested in design but struggled to find a job in the industry – so he joined BUTGEM to improve his chances. Upon completing the programme, Sener secured a job at a digital advertising agency as a Junior Art Director. For the past six years he has continued to rise in the field – winning competitions and the Golden Lions Turkey 2012 award.

“At BUTGEM we had the opportunity to work with experienced trainers who are actually in the sector, with up-to-date and valuable knowledge,” said an excited Sener.

The proper training can help job seekers to strategically align their best skills with the market demands. Inspired by Sener’s story, we partnered with UNDP Kosovo, with the support of Turkey’s BUTGEM, to establish training programmes in Kosovo that will help train future trainees and trainers in sectors that need employees.

We are currently working to extend our support, through UNDP offices, in other countries such as Macedonia, Kenya, Bosnia, Uzbekistan, and India.

We may be ambitious, but together with partners we can provide youth with the needed skills to support employment and secure economic growth.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

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