Digital Skills and Youth Entrepreneurship: An Overview of Digital Transformation - by Angela Jhanji
Changing lives through “Digital Skills”
Digital transformation has accelerated profoundly in the last 20 years. In Sub-Saharan Africa, less than 20 percent of the population have access to century-old electrical grids, yet 70 percent have access to a digital mobile network – technology a quarter as old. This explosive growth hinges upon today’s near-constant stream of new digital technologies that are enabling individuals to communicate faster, and organizations to run smarter and more efficiently. “Digital skills” are buzz words on everyone’s lips, but what does that mean to youth today, both in terms of opportunities (formal and non-formal) and the impact they can have?
With youth unemployment and working poverty affecting every two out of five young women and men, it is natural to explore how this over-sensationalized “millennial culture” can be leveraged for the long term. It is not so much a case of youth being addicted to technology, but rather youth adapting to and quite successfully driving forward this innovative interconnected world.
“Entrepreneurs not consultants” is a phrase that stuck out in my mind, uttered by Accenture’s leadership on a webcast for the whole firm. It was the moment I realized, that while aggressively seeking the strategic solutions skills set, what I had acquired then was far more valuable, “the art of problem solving”. The premise that, no matter who my client or industry is, or their pain-points and barriers to entry; I was skilled in making, delivering and executing a solution. I was an entrepreneur in industries not yet tested, I explored sustainable consumption, created partnerships to scale youth employment solutions, learnt to speak across the private-public and nonprofit sectors. If a client, partner or leader had a will, I was confident my team and I could figure out the way.
Youth Entrepreneurship and the added Value of Digital skills
I think digital and entrepreneurship skills are what youth should focus on to add value to their ventures, employers and the world around them. Today as a young person, I have developed core skills that allow me to move fluidly between cutting edge innovations like digital analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics, being able to change their purpose from profit-making, to world-changing opportunities through partnering with entities of the United Nations, more specifically exploring ways to use technology to scale their impactand contribute to the greater global call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In my current role as Strategy Manager at Accenture, I have the pleasure to coach and mentor younger hires at the firm and support them in understanding the link between transferable entrepreneurial skills and the work we do. One brilliant example is breaking down the issue of identity in a world, where migration is one our biggest policy issues. By understanding digital transformation, it helps us to push innovative creations to deliver game changing solutions at organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) where we developed a multi-mode biometric identity system that provides refugees with a personal identity record. We also used some of the digital skills to create cloud data integration and analysis, for greater access to sustainable development data for Project 8.
Adapting to change in today’s marketplace…
Today’s youth not only need skills in hyper-demand areas, we also need an agile, adaptable mindset. The world is changing constantly, and learning how to deal with a changing marketplace by innovating with new technology is a good way to understand how to be an entrepreneur. Youth will be working in a global startup culture, and gaining early experience in how to adjust, adapt, and “move with the tide” will ensure that they are adequately prepared for the economy of tomorrow. If not for ourselves, then we must adapt for the world, whose challenges are only getting more complex and estranged. I believe that “young people are not just the future, they will build the path we all walk down”.
Having started off my career in youth activism, sitting on the charity boards of UK Youth, Raleigh International, and as a mentor in Yunus and Youth, I have been championing the need for soft skills gained from non-formal learning for years. I truly believe learning and gaining experience does not need to occur in a class room or technically “on-the-job”. In my opinion, active listening, being curious and having the confidence to know that you can overcome any barrier to get a result or get close to it, is an invaluable skill in today’s labor markets.
About Angela Jhanji: Angela Jhanji is a youth champion and a Manager at Accenture Strategy. Her focus is non-profit, public sector, entrepreneurship, innovation, digital, and sustainability. Angela has worked with clients in the FMCG, NGO and charity sectors as well as international bodies such as the World Economic Forum, World Bank and United Nations. Angela has recently graduated from Columbia University School of International Public Affairs, with a Master in Public Policy and Administration. Angela is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper aligned to the DC Hub and was a Yunus and Youth Business Mentor for the 2015 cohort.
Prior to Accenture, Angela worked in the policy and strategy departments of Hounslow and Nottingham City Council, where she also held dual positions in the Cabinet of the UK Youth Parliament and International Youth Council.
Specifically related to youth work, Angela served as a Trustee for charities UK Youth and Raleigh International. Angela is still an active One Young World Ambassador. She was the Curator of the 30 Network in London, a group of 30 under 30 youth leaders for the Youthful Cities initiative. In 2013, Angela was a finalist for the Asian Women of Achievement Award, 'Youth Achiever' category.
Angela actively maintains her high-energy enthusiasm for ideas and innovation through digital platforms; regularly tweeting, blogging and speaking at international events. Angela is keen to share her skill set for change and she welcomes any new opportunities. You can follow her on her twitter page here: @angelajhanji.
UN DESA: International Youth Day 2017 - “Youth Building Peace”
International Youth Day 2017 is celebrated once again this year on 12 August 2017. This year’s theme is "Youth Building Peace” and will explore the various ways in which young people are contributing to building and sustaining peace, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security. Learn more about how you can be part of the celebrations by organizing your own event or activity in your community with the help of the 2017 Toolkit on the Ways to Celebrate International Youth Day! Events or activities can also be plotted on the this year’s International Youth Day World Map of Events!
The official commemorative event for International Youth Day 2017 will take place at the United Nations Headquarters on the 11 August 2017. The event will highlight the importance of young people as equal partners in conflict resolution and decision-making as well as agents of change in peace processes. It will bring together young people actively in peacebuilding and the prevention of violence, in addition to representatives of Member States and United Nations entities. Watch it online on that day here to hear the voices of youth who are working towards the achievement of peace in their communities. Those in New York on 11 August can register to attend the event here. More
UNESCO: Youth, Peace Building and Regional Solidarity: Lessons from Africa
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Gambia National Commission, held an international conference from the 9 to 10 May 2017. The conference provided youth with a platform to share experiences and lessons learned and strengthen their capacity to lead actions at both the community and national levels. The conference took place after the Gambian young women and men used their power to propel a democratic transition. Although African youth usually do not have sufficient spaces to discuss issues that affect them, the opportunity enabled them to learn from each other and foster dynamic youth action across the continent. As a way forward, a Promotion Platform was adopted to engage youth to share their reflections on the role of the youth in a democratic transition in Africa. More
UNESCO: Towards a National Youth Strategy in Libya
In the context of the Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED) project in Libya, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is working together with the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in the development of an evidence-based youth policy paper for Libya. This will be done through the active contribution of partner youth organizations. The focus of activities over the second half of 2017 will be on piloting by youth of a number of recommendations coming from the paper, as well as the development of local youth strategies as a bottom-up approach to advocate for a national youth strategy in Libya. More
UNESCO: Tsawar M3aya exhibition: Youth, Freedom of Expression and Editorial Cartoons in Morocco
Youth organizations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET- MED), joined efforts with the Non- Governmental Organization (NGO), Cartooning for Peace, to organize an exhibition to raise awareness about youth issues and freedom of expression through editorial cartooning. The exhibition “Tsawar M3aya” (“Imagine with me”) was inaugurated on 11 April in the presence of the French cartoonist Plantu, a world-renowned head cartoon editor of Le Monde. The exhibition illustrated the perspectives of young people’s key challenges in Morocco. A pedagogical type of cartoons and accompanying texts were on display for the public to view and reflect on. Following the exhibition, 10 cartoonists and 10 young leaders were trained to conduct pedagogical activities based on the exhibition contents. YouTube video and more
Representatives of about 150 young women and men from civil society, academia, international organizations and governments from Latin America met at a seminar to discuss the challenges of social development and innovation, civic engagement and community actions. The seminar, “Youth and Social Innovation: A Dialogue on Bottom-up Social Development” was organized by the (UNESCO) Offices in Brazil and Mexico and was held on 11 May in Mexico City. During the event, a Spanish version of the“Bottom-up social development in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro: a toolkit” (Desarrollo social de base em favelas de Río de Janeiro: un manual práctico) was presented. The toolkit contained evidence-based tools, information and concepts regarding the social development model found in grassroots organizations. More
UNESCO: INCREA LAB: Opportunities for Indigenous Cultural Entrepreneurs
The International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) which is the operational arm of the 2005 Convention for the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, funded a project in Guatemala to promote indigenous grassroots micro-initiatives in the audiovisual sector, contributing to the economic development and social cohesion in rural Guatemala. Over 100 young indigenous cultural entrepreneurs were trained at INCREA LAB (coaching, mentoring and training center) in audiovisual creation and the use of digital technologies. As a result, business initiatives from young cultural industry professionals were developed through the provision of seed funding and networking. The project also built a partnership with the University of San Carlos for the creation of professional certification programme for young cultural managers. More
UNDP: Summary of Joint E-Discussion on Youth Political Participation
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through UNDP4Youth and iKNOW Politics co-convened an e-Discussion on Youth Political Participation, held from 3 April to 8 May 2017. Fifteen participants from Sub-Saharan Africa, Arab region, the America and Europe participated in an online debate and submitted contributions. Comprising of experts, members of civil society organizations, students, and representatives of government institutions, the participants commonly stressed the urgent need for action, to give young people the opportunity and power to influence policies that affect their lives by introducing measures aimed at increasing their interest and participation in politics. More
ILO: UN Agencies Launch Youth Entrepreneurship and Self-employment Campaign
The United Nations system- the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Training Centre (ITC), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)- launched a campaign under the aegis of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth on the occasion of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises International Day, held on the 27 June 2017. The UN agencies focused on solutions to address the unique obstacles to youth entrepreneurship and self-employment. The ILO, ITC, UNCDF, UNIDO and UNCTAD lead the global campaign to promote actions needed to effectively enable young entrepreneurs to succeed and improve the sustainability and quality of self-employment opportunities for youth. More
ILO: Skills for the Future of Work
World Youth Skills Day was celebrated on 17 July 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event theme focused on “Skills for the future of work”. The International Labour Organization (ILO) called for joint work and highlighted the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth as a platform for action. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) presented the Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth Campaign recently launched together with the ILO under the aegis of the Global Initiative. The newly appointed UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake reiterated the commitment contained in the 2030 Agenda to substantially increase the number of youth who have relevant skills. More
ILO trainings on evaluation of youth employment and gender audits
The International Training Centre (ITC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in partnership with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is organizing trainings as part of an IFAD-financed project entitled “Strengthening Gender Monitoring and Evaluation in Rural Employment in the Near East and North Africa”. Applicants are invited to follow this link to register in the Participatory Gender Audit (PGA) for a facilitator certification in Arabic. Thecourse duration is from: 4 September to 6 October (online phase) and 9 October to 13 October (residential phase at ITC/ILO Turin, Italy). In addition, the course, “Developing a monitoring and evaluation framework for youth and women employment programmes” will take place from 4 to 8 September at ITC/ILO Turin. More
Call for Applications for Young Peacebuilders in North Africa and Middle East
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is pleased to launch the Call for Applications for Young Peacebuilders in the Middle East and North Africa. The programme is open to participants from the Middle East and North Africa, who are between 18 to 25 years old, and with a strong interest in growing their ability to act as agents of peace. The aim is to support the growth of networks of young peacebuilders equipped with the tools to address stereotypes, prejudice and polarization in order to build more inclusive and peaceful societies within their communities and globally. Deadline to apply: August 31. More
UNDP: Youth Participation in Electoral Processes - Handbook for Electoral Management Bodies
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the EC-UNDP joint task force on electoral assistance (JTF), published a handbook for electoral management bodies to ensure that all segments of the society, including youth are empowered to fully participate in the electoral process as voters, candidates or officials. Specifically designed for electoral management bodies (EMBs), the handbook provides strategies and entry points to assist EMBs in removing barriers to youth electoral participation at different levels and in different areas. The publication also explores how EMBs could capitalize on innovative solutions to make electoral processes more inclusive and peaceful and links these objectives to the outcomes and indicators of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. More