World Youth Skills Day 2021

Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic

This year’s World Youth Skills Day will again take place in a challenging context, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with education and training systems yet to return to pre-crisis conditions. It aims to celebrate the resilience and creativity of youth throughout the crisis and focus attention on how technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems have adapted to the pandemic, participate in the recovery, and imagine priorities they should adopt for the post-COVID-19 world.

    World Youth Skills Day, observed annually on 15 July, focuses on the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship.

    In 2021, the World Youth Skills Day will again take place in a challenging context. The COVID-19 pandemic continues, reaching a scale that could hardly have been anticipated one year ago. While vaccinations offer hope to bring the situation under control in several high-income countries, major emerging countries are facing severe outbreaks that overwhelm their health infrastructure. Education and training systems have yet to return to pre-pandemic conditions. Respondents to a survey of TVET institutions jointly collected by UNESCO, the International Labour Organization and the World Bank reported that distance training had become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties regarding, among others, curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.

    The pandemic and lockdowns have also resulted in an unprecedented recession. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the world economy contracted by 3.3 per cent in 2020 and warns that the recovery expected in 2021 – with a 6.0 growth rate – remains highly uncertain. The ILO finds that 8.8 per cent of work hours were lost in 2020, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs. The World Bank underscores that the continuous trend toward poverty reduction observed for more than two decades was reversed – instead of decreasing by 31 million in 2020, as expected before the pandemic, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by 93 million.

    Objectives of the event

    The World Youth Skills Day 2021 will celebrate the resilience and creativity of youth throughout the crisis. Participants will take stock of how TVET systems have adapted to the pandemic and recession, consider how those systems can participate in the recovery, and imagine priorities they should adopt for a post-COVID-19 world. A first interactive panel will discuss skills that are needed today and will be needed in the future, and a second panel will reflect on TVET stakeholder partnerships for scaling up youth skills development.

    The objectives of the World Youth Skills Day 2021 are therefore to:

    • Assess the situation of young people regarding skills and work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic; learn how they have been living through the crisis; highlight success stories of youth innovation and resilience;
    • Debate on prospects for skills development and the world of work as economies recover, and on the effectiveness of national recovery plans and support from development partners; and,
    • Reflect on how TVET stakeholders can collaborate to scale up skills development and help reconcile the short-term need for economic recovery with the urgent need for accelerating the transition to sustainable development.
    Additionally, the Global framework on core skills for life and work in the 21st century will be launched. This new global framework reflects the ongoing transformations and the emerging opportunities in the world of work. This publication contributes to ILO's efforts in promoting personal and professional development for all, through lifelong learning.


    The World Youth Skills Days is co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka to the United Nations, together with UNESCO, ILO and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

    The online event will take place on Thursday, 15 July from 11:00 to 12:30 EST (New York), 17:00 to 18:30 CEST (Geneva).