September 26, 2018

Live blog: how we can help to #WriteTheWrong on education and youth skills

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

Leaders from business, philanthropy, international institutions, government and civil society are at this Global Business Coalition for Education event.

Hundreds of millions of young people face a bleak future - unless we act urgently. Change is happening at such a furious pace that many of today’s generation will be left without the skills needed for the workforce of tomorrow.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution means dramatic advances in such fields as robotics and artificial intelligence. But it also means half of the world’s youth - over 800 million of them - could lack meaningful and quality employment by the year 2030.

How to avoid that gloom-laden scenario is the theme of a major event today hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education

Titled Action Plan 2030: Time to #WriteTheWrong, it will bring together more than 100 high-level representatives from business, philanthropy, international institutions, government and civil society, including young people themselves. They are all in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly.

Their task at this event is to identify tangible actions, innovations and new ways of working that can create systemic change and unlock the potential of young people.

This live blog will bring you coverage of the event, which starts at 7am. Times given are New York times (EST).

The breakfast event during UN General Assembly week is an annual gathering that draws some of the biggest names from UN agencies, global companies and other leading organisations.

6am: The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) is a group of more than 100 businesses that believe the private sector has a vital role to play in increasing the number of children and youth who are in school and learning. 

It believes education is the birthright of every child, the key to expanded opportunity, future employment and the cornerstone of greater economic development and social prosperity.

Last week GBC-Education’s Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative released a report that focused on how the business community can contribute to developing and growing the workforce of the future.

Today’s Action Plan 2030 event will feature contributions from eminent speakers, followed by guests swapping ideas and opinions to come up with some concrete proposals.

7am - We start with a welcome from David Boutcher, Partner at the global law Reed Smith, which is hosting this event at its Lexington Avenue offices. He says: “We’re here to address the challenge we all care about - unleashing the potential of the next generation of young people through free, quality and inclusive education.”

Sarah Brown addresses the event and introduces the #WriteTheWrong campaign

Photo credit: Lana Wong

Our opening remarks come from Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of GBC-Education and President of Theirworld, who talks about a significant year for education funding.

Sarah introduces the #WriteTheWrong campaign - which highlights the fact that over 260 million children and youth are out of school around the world. The causes are widespread - from poverty and conflict to child labour, early marriage and discrimination against girls. Learn more about why children are out of school.

She thanks the global marketing company Omnicom and advertising agency BBDO - who are working with Theirworld as part of the UN Common Ground Initiative - for making a powerful video for the #WriteTheWrong campaign.

Watch the #WriteTheWrong film

Sarah talks about an in-depth report that reveals 1.8 billion young people are at risk of missing out on jobs of the future unless the global business community shows leadership and comes up with new solutions. The report - about preparing tomorrow's workforce when change is happening so rapidly - was published by GBC-Education and Deloitte Global. Learn more about the report here.

She also reveals that Theirworld has produced a Safe Schools report, which examines the extent of attacks on education.

7.10am - Sarah introduces Jamira Burley, Head of Youth Engagement and Skills at GBC-Education.

She explains the format of the event. With a host of government ministers, chief executives, UN agency heads and NGO leaders in the room, the idea is to tap into the knowledge, ideas and passion for change.

Jamira says: “We want to utilise this opportunity to pick your brains and do a mini consultation. How do we take the next steps to the actions to communities around the world?"

Jamira Burley with Global Youth Ambassador Gideon Olanrewaju

Before that we’ll hear from inspiring figures to address the 2030 challenge and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

They are:

  • John Fallon, CEO of Pearson
  • Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares

John Fallon says: “There are lots of headlines about how the robots are going to take over our jobs. But I think we have very reason to be optimistic about the opportunities technology gives us to open up education for people around the world.

“This is a generation that is hugely comfortable with mobile technology, that very much wants to see education linked directly to employment. We need to focus on the things that make us most human.”

John Fallon is optimistic about the opportunities that technology offers

Photo credit: John Fallon / Twitter

Audrey Azoulay tells how she was in Argentina for the first ever G20 education ministers’ meeting, where it was agreed to build solid links between education and employment. 

She says: “At this time of uncertainty we have to learn how to learn - to give children the possibility to adapt. We need to bridge the gap between school and the labour market.”

“We need a strong emphasis on gender ... if we want women to participate in the world of tomorrow, the world of technology.

“We need to build alliances, partnerships and invest in the long term.”

Henrietta Fore says: “This coalition really makes a difference - it is your way into countries and non-profits and the United Nations."

She tells how UNICEF has just launched a new initiative on secondary education.

She adds: "Our mission is to try to get every young person in school, learning, training or age-appropriate employment by 2030." 

Tariq Al Gurg says: “If we are really serious about opening a chapter to support youth, we need to get it right from the beginning.

“That would require a mindset shift, systemic change and to focus on three main areas - strengthen collaborative efforts, take things to scale and leverage technology, and involve the private sector in the equation.”

7.30am - We’ve been talking a lot about the future of young people. Now we hear from them - in the shape of one of the Global Youth Ambassadors for Theirworld. Gideon Olanrewaju has come from Nigeria to take part in several events in New York this week around education and youth skills issues.

Gideon says: “My peers are the youth generation - and my friends are the ones who are facing an uncertain future and lack of investment in skills.

“So we would like you to discuss the following question...

“United in our belief that next-generation thinking and next-generation partnerships are required to achieve the 2030 global goals for education, what tangible actions, innovations and new ways of working can create disruptive, systemic change and unlock the potential of young people in the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?”

The guests at each table will discuss their ideas and come back with some exciting ideas and actions.

While they’re doing that, here are some of the findings from the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative report. It carried out research into what skills will be required for youth to succeed.

Four skills that emerged are:

  • Workforce readiness. Basic skills such as time management, personal presentation and attendance are critical to entering the workforce.

  • Soft skills. As humans increasingly work alongside robots, uniquely human skills - such as creativity, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence and critical thinking - will be irreplaceable by machines.

  • Technical skills. New employment opportunities are being created through technology. Jobs that are currently going unfilled often require industry-specific technical skills and targeted training.

  • Entrepreneurship. As the gig economy grows, youths' ability to be innovative, creative and take initiative to launch new ventures will serve them well.

7.50am - Here we go again - with a speaker selected from each table to report back with their actions to advance education and skills for young people.

Denmark’s Minister for Development and Cooperation Ulla Tornaes says: “I am very happy to announce the Danish government will contribute $185 million to the Global Partnership for Education, $46 million to Education Cannot Wait and $17 million to UNICEF education programmes.

"I would like to have a strong focus on girls’ education, particularly in crisis situations.”

David Barnes, Global Managing Partner of Public Policy at Deloitte Global, says the key is partnership and coalitions. He says Deloitte is committed to working with governments around the world.

Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at HP, says his company has pledged to back 120 million learning outcomes by 2025. He adds: “We have a new partnership with UNICEF, working as part of the emergency response in Lebanon, setting up nine second-shift schools and reaching 4000 refugee and Lebanese children.”

Yasmine Sherif is Director of Education Cannot Wait, the fund to provide education in emergencies such as conflicts and natural disasters that was established after campaigning by Theirworld and GBC-Education. 

She says: “ECW started with a commitment from Theirworld and GBC-Education - and almost one million children in 17 crisis and conflict countries have been reached with quality education.”

She announced the winners of Education Cannot Wait’s Resources Mobilisation Challenge.

Pierre Krahenbuhl is Commissioner General of UNRWA, the UN agency that provides education for 525,000 Palestinian children and other services. A funding crisis means the future of UNRWA’s 711 schools are under threat - so today he has brought along two students from UNRWA schools to speak on his behalf.

They are Aseel Sabooh, 15, from Lebanon and 14-year-old Ahmad Baker from Jordan. Both are members of the UNRWA agency-wide Student Parliament.

UNRWA students Ahmad Baker and Aseel Soboh at the Youth 2030 Agenda event at the UN

Photo credit: Facebook / UNRWA

In a passionate speech, Ahmad says: “We have hopes and dreams just like all other children. Education is our hope and our horizon. Please help us protect our education.”

Aseel says: “We want to contribute to solutions and a better world. Nothing is better to us than education. Please help us save our schools.”

The students get a standing ovation from everyone in the room.

8.05am: Daniella Foster, Senior Director, CSR, at Hilton Worldwide, says the company has committed to double its investment in countries where youth opportunities are lowest. Hilton partners with Making Cents to tap into supply chains across business.

She adds: “The potential on how you work together to make change happen is there.”

Graham Peters is Managing Director of Avanti Government Solutions. He says: “We are working in partnership with DFID in schools across East Africa, using the internet as an enabler for education. We are looking to find partners about how we can work together to prove how sustainable internet can be used to support education initiatives.”

Mary Snapp, President of Microsoft Philanthropies, said: “Our hope is that as we drive technology forward, we democratise it to benefit everyone to leave no one behind.”

She says partnerships with UNICEF will ensure children and women can access content and curricula for education.

Next up is Shafqat Mahmood is Pakistan’s Minister for Education and Professional Training. He says: “As a new government, I want to say that we are determined to get 25 million children into school.

“We are looking for innovative ways to have public-private partnerships in the skills sector as well as in education.”

Hiro Mizuno, Executive Managing Director of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund talks about the importance of education investments. 

Matthew Rycroft is Permanent Secretary at the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. He says: "It is a battle to make sure that every girl and every boy gets the education they deserve." He says DFId is proud to be working on education wit three of the previous speakers - UNRWA, Avanti and the Pakistan education department.

Next to speak is economist Adeyemi Babington-Ashaye, who heads the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community. He says the organisation will facilitate 50 interactions that will bring together stakeholders to explore the youth skills report, consider what it means locally and to take action.

The only way is up, says Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank

8.25am - Jamira Burley is back to introduce Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank.

Georgieva says: “What we have done since we last met - we have ratcheted up finance for education. The only way for us is up, up, up."

She also says the World Bank is backing the International Finance Facility for Education, which will unlock $10 billion of funding to help millions of children into school

"We have completed the financial health check of IFFEd. I can now say proudly that we stand behind it," she says.

Georgieva rounds off the event by saying: “The new song for this community is (and she sings it!) This Is How Do It.”

That gets a big laugh but also a huge round of applause for the inspirational message.

That’s all from this fascinating and empowering event. Please check back in later to see more pictures.

We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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