Generation Unlimited launches in Bangladesh
UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, has joined with leaders and young people to officially launch the partnership in Bangladesh and call for new commitments.
"Young people represent the economic future of every country,” said Fore, addressing a room of leaders from the private sector, civil society and young people themselves in Dhaka.
“[They are] ready to work, ready to contribute, ready to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities."
But only 35 per cent of them are employed, explained Fore, and over half of those who work are employed in vulnerable and often temporary jobs.
"Young people are sounding the alarm. They're telling us that they cannot see a better future for themselves because they're not receiving the ladders of opportunity that they need to build this future."
This is the grand challenge for Generation Unlimited, a new global platform to identify and scale up solutions for young people – to help them get the skills and education they need to succeed in today’s world.
One such solution is the Alternative Learning Programme, which provides training opportunities for disadvantaged young people who are out-of-school in Bangladesh. Generation Unlimited is supporting BRAC to deliver this life-changing opportunity to adolescents, including Rohingya refugees.
Fore saw the impact first-hand when she met with refugees at an adolescent centre in Cox’s Bazar.
Sura is learning to make dresses as part of the vocational training programme. She hasn’t finished high school but now she has a chance to learn new skills in her course and through internships with local businesses.
“A generation of Rohingya children and young people cannot be left without the education and skills to build a life for themselves,” said Fore. “If they become self-sustaining, their communities will also become self-sustaining and flourish. With the right investment, the Rohingya can be an asset to their community and to the world.”
BRAC is also helping Bangladeshi young people to build their skills as beauticians, mechanics and technicians who repair mobile phones.
At the launch event in Dhaka, Fore invited the community to support these kinds of solutions as they gathered to celebrate Generation Unlimited.
Joining UNICEF chief on stage were State Minister for Labour and Employment, Begum Monnujan Sufian; Deputy Minister of Education, Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury; Country Director of International Labour Organization (ILO), Tuomo Poutiainen; and UNICEF Representative, Mr. Edouard Beigbeder.
Together they led a vibrant discussion with media, young Bangladeshis and leading figures from the private sector.
Young people need quality education, skills and work experience, explained Fore, but businesses also need them.
“They’re your future customers. The future drivers of this economy. And your future employees.”
This is why Generation Unlimited is such an important opportunity.
It is a chance to take full advantage of the youth dividend. A chance for entire economies to harness the energy and talents of booming youth populations. A chance for every young person to decide their own future and live out their unlimited potential.