It is well understood but often unappreciated that today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. Youth need to be aware of the issues that affect the world now because the current global challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, will impact their future.
Paying lip service to their concerns about high unemployment and the lack of job opportunities will not be enough if they want to ensure a robust future for their countries and the world. There has long been a concern about the mismatch between education and the labour market—our education systems do not keep pace with the ever-changing job market, which includes technological advances. The unfit labour force has led to a high youth unemployment rate worldwide, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
In August 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reported that unemployment among the youth (ages 15–24) in Latin America and the Caribbean reached 23.8% in the first quarter of 2021. In its Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022 report, the ILO further estimated youth unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean to be 20.5% this year. Africa’s youth were hit even harder by the pandemic, with the Brookings Institution estimating that youth unemployment soared as high as 60% in 2021. Moreover, in the 2022 report, the ILO noted that in 2020, one in five young people in Africa were not in employment, education or training.
The role youth play in our development has not been lost on the organisers of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022 (ACTIF2022), which will be held from September 1 to 3, 2022 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The event is hosted by the Government of Barbados and Afreximbank.
During the inaugural conference, a panel will discuss, “Creating Opportunities for Youth and SMEs in Today’s Global Economy”. Moderated by Business Development Consultant, Taahir Bulbulia, the panel will bring together youth leaders from Africa and the Caribbean to advance their views on transformation, establishing a permanent and inclusive channel that facilitates their collaboration on priorities, action plans and solutions and youth entrepreneurship.
Forbes reported that the pandemic propelled entrepreneurship. As employment opportunities dried up, start-ups emerged, many of which were led by youth. To ensure youth entrepreneurship thrives in Africa, the Caribbean and indeed worldwide, it will be imperative to nurture environments that allow young persons to open, maintain and grow businesses.
Panellists for the ACTIF2022 youth session include Chido Cleopatra Mpemba, Special Envoy on Youth to AU Chairperson, African Union; Youssouf Simbo Diakité, Diaspora Youth Network, Head of Vienna Office & Berlin Liaison Office; Raphael Saul, Motivational Youth Speaker; Ryan Moseley, Manager, Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme; Khaleel Kothdiwala, Youth Leader; and Oluranti Doherty, Director, Export Development, African Export-Import Bank.