World Youth Skills Day: 15 key facts about training and education in 2022

A group of people huddled together. The theme of this year's World Youth Skills Day is ‘Transforming Youth Skills for the Future’.

The theme of this year's World Youth Skills Day is ‘Transforming Youth Skills for the Future’. Image: Unsplash/S. H. Gue

Kate Whiting
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  • World Youth Skills Day on 15 July highlights the opportunities and challenges that young people face in employment.
  • This year's theme is ‘Transforming Youth Skills for the Future’.
  • Only a quarter of young people are on track to acquire job-specific skills, according to UNICEF’s Recovering Learning report.

Only around 1 in 4 of the world’s young people are on track to learn the skills they need to get a job - either through education, employment or training.

That’s according to Recovering Learning, a new report from the Education Commission and UNICEF published to coincide with the United Nations’ World Youth Skills Day on 15 July.

Since 2014, the day has been celebrating the importance of skilling young people (aged 15-24) for employment - and providing them with an opportunity to engage with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, businesses, and policymakers.

As the world teeters on the brink of a global recession, experts are calling for investment in skills and education for young people to equip them for the future and help to drive economic growth.


“We must ensure the right of young people to effective and inclusive education, training, and lifelong learning,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “That requires ramping up youth skills development while investing in Technical Vocational Education and Training, broadband connectivity, and digital skills.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF Director of Education Robert Jenkins highlights the wider importance of closing the skills gap: “An inspired, skilled generation of children and young people is critical for prosperity, progression, and the success of societies and economies,” he says.

“Investment in cost-effective, proven solutions to fast-track learning and skills development for today’s generation and future generations is urgently needed to address this crisis.”

Here are 15 key facts about the youth skills gap in 2022 and how to close it:

1. 78 million

That’s how many more young people there will be by 2030, according to the UN. Nearly half of that number will be in low-income countries and will need education and training.

2. >736,971,000

The number of youth without secondary education-level skills, according to the World Skills Clock, a partnership between UNICEF, the Education Commission, World Data Lab, and Generation Unlimited, which counts up in real-time.

3. -39 million

How much youth employment fell by in 2020, while 24 million young people are still at risk of not returning to school, according to Guterres. Young people lost jobs faster than other age groups in the first few months of the pandemic, because they were over-represented in the worst-hit sectors, or had temporary or fixed-term contracts.

4. $2.54 trillion

The potential global GDP gain from investment in collaborative problem-solving skills, according to the World Economic Forum’s recent Catalysing Education 4.0 insight report.

A diagram showing potential GDP gain from investment in collaborative problem-solving skills
How problem-solving skills education could contribute to the global economy. Image: WEF

5. 30%

6. $17 trillion

The projected global loss in lifetime incomes due to COVID-19 school closures of more than six months, on average.

7. 86%

The percentage of apprenticeships that stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

8. 600 million

The number of jobs that need to be created over the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs.

A chart showing the concerns youth organisations have about ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 crisis
Education and Employment were in the top 3 main concerns for young people in 2021. Image: OECD

9. 85%

The proportion of young people in at least 1 in 3 low-income countries with available data, who are off-track for secondary-level, digital, and job-specific skills attainment, the Recovering Learning report notes.

10. 1 in 2

The number of 18 to 24-year-olds who believe there will be no traditional employment in the future, instead they will “promote their own personal brands and sell skills on a short-term basis to those who need them”, according to a PwC survey.

11. $1.5 billion vs $16 billion

The total cumulative volume of investments related to UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality Education over the past decade, compared to global healthcare.

A chart showing the global cumulative public-private investment related to UNSDG 4, 2011-2020
How investment in education has plateaued in recent years. Image: WEF

12. 63%

13. $404 billion

The capital ‘edtech’ is projected to attract globally by 2025, due to increased recognition of the importance of technology-enabled and remote learning during the pandemic.

14. 69 million

The number of additional teachers that will need to be recruited in the coming years to reach SDG4 by 2030. Currently, there are 85 million teachers worldwide.

15. 19 September

When the UN holds its Transforming Education Summit in New York, during the 77th UN General Assembly. The Summit is aiming to mobilize political ambition, action, solutions and solidarity to transform education: to take stock of efforts to recover pandemic-related learning losses; to reimagine education systems for the world of today and tomorrow, and to revitalize national and global efforts to achieve SDG4.

UNICEF and the Education Commission are urging governments to ensure every child has a quality education and break down the barriers that put them at risk of dropping out; assess children’s learning levels and provide tailored catch-up classes to bring them up to speed; prioritize foundational skills to build a strong base for lifelong learning, and support psychosocial health and wellbeing by providing holistic support.

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