Author: Sophie Smit (European Schoolnet)
15 July is the day that we celebrate youth skills all around the world. The United Nations declared this day as the World Youth Skills Day in 2014. This day fosters the dialogue between young people, the educational sector that focuses on technical and vocational education, industry, and policy makers.
The development of skills is important for young people, as skills will prepare them to participate in society. As digital technologies are becoming a greater part of our daily lives, it is crucial that young people have opportunities to develop digital skills when they grow up. It could create more job opportunities for them later in life, since technological developments change the nature of the labour market, asking for more digital skills.
Youth are often considered to be ‘digital natives‘. Adults assume that young people who grow up amongst digital devices are automatically digital literate. ‘Digital literacy‘ means the possession of several specific digital skills that adolescents need to learn in order to function effectively in the digital environment (Rodriguez-de-Dios, van Oosten & Igartua, 2018, p. 187). However, studies show that adolescents are not all “digital natives” that possess all relevant digital skills (Livingstone & Helsper, 2010, ITU, 2021).
Research suggests that greater digital skills are linked to more exposure to online risks, but it remains unclear if there is also greater harm when there is more exposure (Livingstone, Mascheroni & Stoilova, 2021). It is assumed that acquiring digital skills can help young people to avoid the negative consequences of digital technologies. There are differences amongst young people in how far they are capable of taking advantage of online opportunities and avoiding online risks, such as cyberbullying (Rodriguez-de-Dios, van Oosten & Igartua, 2018). Research showed that the development of digital skills can help youth to cope better with online risks such as exposure to cyberbullying (Smith, 2017).
It is therefore that the World Youth Skills Day can play an important part in supporting youth to develop these important digital skills. This day offers a platform where relevant stakeholders can interact and learn from each other. Today, a hybrid global event is organised that focuses on transforming youth skills for the future and simultaneously highlights the upcoming Transforming Education Summit, that takes place in September 2022. This event will bring together youth, governments, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society representatives to discuss how young people can find their place and adapt accordingly in this ever-changing world.
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