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Make the Reskilling Revolution a Priority in the Recovery

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“There has been a lot of talk during the last few years, but very, very limited action” on education, reskilling and upskilling efforts, said Alain Dehaze, Chief Executive Officer, Adecco Group, Switzerland, in a session on Transforming Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning at the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit today. “Efforts must include a range of stakeholders “because reskilling, upskilling and training are not [just] an individual question or a business questions or a governmental question.”

The Palestinian National Authority has launched a novel effort aimed at “the rehabilitation of university graduates” through entrepreneurship, said Mohammad Ibrahim Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. Many graduates end up unemployed because their degrees did not provide them with marketable skills. “We are teaching them to become computer coders, and we have introduced other vocational training courses,” he said. “Students must stop relying on a job with the private sector or a job with the government. I want them to be self-employed.”

“I’m so glad to hear that we have a national leader who really recognizes that entrepreneurship education is a priority, and it’s something which can be taught,” said Asheesh Advani, President and Chief Executive Officer, JA Worldwide, USA.

Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School, United Kingdom, agreed, adding that efforts to accelerate advances in education, training, reskilling and upskilling must be a multistakeholder effort, and inclusive: “Otherwise, in 10 years’ time, we won’t have the right people sitting in the right jobs.” She noted that such efforts should “leverage technology” and that new credentials need to be established and recognized for the attainment of emerging skills.

Inclusion should extend beyond diversity “to include young boys and girls growing up across the world,” said Mariéme Jamme, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, iamtheCODE, United Kingdom. “The starting point is actually to make sure their human rights are respected” and then giving them the tools they will need in the workplace.

“With today’s kids, the thing they want to learn most … are things like coding and computer science,” said Hadi Partovi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Code.org, USA. “Computer science and entrepreneurship are not only the skills that students need the most, but also the things they want the most.”

With regard to credentials, Advani noted that they are partnering with employers to recognize a new micro-credential, encouraging young people to add it to their online jobs profile, and working with governments to get access to schools.

Advani also noted that “Even after doing an entrepreneurship programme, [students] don’t become entrepreneurs. Soft skills, communication skills and adaptability skills become so important in the job market, knowing that young people are going to have potentially seven careers” during their lifetime.

Among the initiatives launched at the summit, government officials in Turkey today announced the launch of a Closing the Skills Gap Accelerator, joining 10 countries through the Forum platform in applying a similar framework to rapidly upskilling their workforce.

“Rapid technological progress, globalization and now COVID-19 are revolutionizing how we work. There will be a new set of skills needed to adapt and prosper. As policy-makers, we are obliged to ensure a smooth and equal transition that works for all. I trust that the Accelerator Network will further enhance real sector collaboration among nations. Turkey is ready to capture the opportunities of the new normal with its favourable demographics, flexible and skilled workforce,” said Mustafa Varank, Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey.

“In today’s world where information and technology are changing rapidly, technology has gained a great momentum to become the new normal of our daily life with the pandemic process. This rapid momentum has made it inevitable to integrate new skills into our lives. This skills change will take place with a qualified education and, in this context, everyone from public institutions to non-governmental organizations has a great duty. I believe that the Closing the Skills Gap Accelerator Programme will play a role in strengthening cooperation in the new normal process and triggering the power of learning together,” said Ziya Selçuk, Minister of Education of Turkey.

“By adopting an industry-oriented workforce transformation approach and seizing the demographic window of opportunity, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services strives to prepare Turkey to meet the future labour market needs and challenges. With a view to leaving no one behind, we will improve the use of technology, ensure more productive and safer workplaces for emerging new types of work, and improve the digital skills of our workers within the perspective of tripartite dialogue,” said Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services of Turkey.

In January 2020, the World Economic Forum launched the Reskilling Revolution, a multistakeholder initiative aiming to provide better education, new skills and better work to 1 billion people around the world by 2030. It serves as a platform for connecting and coordinating initiatives within specific countries, industries, organizations and schools. In the past months, it has supported stakeholders in adjusting their efforts to the new context of the pandemic and promoted rapid exchange of best practices between initiatives. We invite leaders and organizations to contribute to the platform.

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Innovative finance mechanism to support Uruguay’s energy transition

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A joint UN proposal in Uruguay, with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) acting as lead agency, seconded by UNDP and UN Women, has been approved by the United Nations Joint Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Fund. This was announced today as part of a Joint SDG Fund US$41m portfolio to catalyze strategic financing to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals.

Uruguay is one of four countries, and the only one in Latin America, to be selected for funding. The UNIDO-led proposal for Uruguay, along with ones from Fiji, Indonesia and Malawi, was selected from 155 proposals from over 100 country applicants across the globe.

The programme will establish a Renewable Energy Innovation Fund (REIF) to support Uruguay´s second energy transition, with the objectives of decarbonizing the economy and boosting competitiveness. The REIF will combat climate change by helping transition Uruguay’s transportation and industry sectors to green energy and by providing affordable access to innovative clean technologies.

The Joint SDG Fund will provide a grant of US$10m, leveraging around US$70m of co-financing from regional development banks and private commercial banks. The REIF will support cleantech financing in energy storage, smart grid, green hydrogen, electro-mobility and waste management/treatment technologies. 

Manuel Albaladejo, UNIDO Representative and the UN team leader designing the Uruguay proposal, stated, “This programme sets a precedent on how UNIDO should approach development cooperation in middle-income countries. Besides UNIDO´s well-known technical expertise, understanding and deploying innovative financing mechanisms to leverage co-funding from development finance institutions and even commercial banks will be key to UNIDO´s work. Indeed, the UN reform and the multilateral funds such as GEF and GCF emphasize the need to shift to impact investments that tap into private sector financing.”

Mireia Villar Forner, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uruguay, said, “Thanks to the support of the Joint SDG Fund, the UN team is better equipped to support the alignment of private investments to the SDGs through the establishment of a national ecosystem for impact investment. Without a doubt, it changes the way we work.”

Omar Paganini, Uruguay’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, said, “On behalf of the Ministry, we are very enthusiastic about the support received from the SDG Fund, which will be a great contribution to promote Uruguay´s second energy transition. The REIF is an innovative instrument that powers and deepens the impact of our public policies. We believe it will boost Uruguay´s efforts to achieve the SDGs.”

The Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund is an innovative instrument to incentivize transformative policy shifts and stimulate the strategic investments required to get the world back on track to meet the SDGs. The UN Secretary-General sees the Joint SDG Fund as a key part of the reform of the UN’s development work by providing the “muscle” for a new generation of Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to really accelerate SDG implementation.

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Estonia provides good support to jobseekers, but does not reach everybody

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The Estonian labour market has outperformed most EU countries after the global financial crisis. The employment rate of people in working age stood at 73% in the third quarter of 2020, up from 61.3% in 2010 and above the OECD average of 66.7%. Estonia provides comprehensive and targeted support to jobseekers, workers and employers. The Public Employment Service provides effective policies addressing the individual needs of the clients and cooperates pro-actively with a wide range of stakeholders. However, many people still lack stable jobs and incomes and are not in touch with the Public Employment Service to get the support they need, according to a new OECD report.

Connecting people with jobs: Improving the provision of active labour market policies in Estonia says that despite good labour market outcomes, about one quarter (26%) of the working age population could achieve better labour market outcomes through targeted support. Many of them face challenges related to their skills (68%) and family-related challenges (64%), such as care obligations. In many cases, they face several obstacles simultaneously and require an integrated approach.

Estonia’s active labour market policies (ALMPs) are responsive to labour market needs. However, ALMPs reach only 39% of people who are weakly attached to the labour market, and only 33% of people who are out of employment for more than one year.

“Reinforcing outreach to vulnerable groups far from the labour market is crucial to ensure that more people in Estonia get the support they need,” said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.

Improved cooperation between the Public Employment Service and other relevant institutions providing social, health and education services would help reduce gaps in support to vulnerable groups. Notably, municipalities should be the “first respondents”, supporting vulnerable groups with social welfare services, and cooperating with other institutions when needed. 

Further improvements in the provision of ALMPs could be supported by a leaner regulatory framework. The current legal regulations support flexible and effective policy responses but are complex, which leads to administrative inefficiencies. A leaner regulatory framework would enable Estonia to support flexibility in policy design while maintaining the capacity to respond to labour market changes.

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UNIDO works to scale up the ICT start-up ecosystem in Iran

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photo: UNIDO

Together with its national counterparts from the Information Technology Organization of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and in partnership with the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is taking the next step to implement the project, “Promoting and upscaling innovative SMEs in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

The project aims to nurture the entrepreneurial ecosystem for ICT start-ups and scale-ups through international exposure and fostering technology and know-how exchange. In this context, a comprehensive dialogue between governmental institutions and leaders in the private sector has been launched, thereby providing a mechanism for Iranian startups to connect with institutional actors and successfully start scaling up.

An ICT ecosystem mapping exercise has revealed that Iran already possesses extensive scientific, technological, financial and highly qualified human capital to boost its SME sector. However, it is currently not living up to its potential and there is a need to provide a mechanism for establishing linkages with key stakeholders, including access to finance and relevant advisory support. This way the project builds competitiveness and supports the development of innovative enterprises.

Amir Nazemi, Deputy Minister at Iran’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, said, “Aiming to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment, Iran has made a considerable effort to develop a dynamic national innovation system and is moving steadily towards a knowledge- and innovation-based economy. As a result, our human capital is now comprises highly educated and motivated workforce, including scientists, entrepreneurs and business people. Knowledge-based entrepreneurship is a key tool in Iran for employment generation, providing new opportunities for labour market integration of young professionals and serving as a powerful impetus for knowledge-based development of the country’s economy as a whole.”

Based on the findings regarding the existing constraints and opportunities of the ICT sector, the UNIDO project team has proposed a roadmap that envisages short-, medium- and long-term interventions in both public and private sectors, addressing several problem areas, such as knowledge generation and transfer; access to finance; nurturing of entrepreneurial talent and skills, as well as stimulating interaction and collaboration within the ICT ecosystem.

“The level of engagement from prominent public and private sector representatives related to the ICT sector has demonstrated the importance such initiatives have in making the ecosystem for ICT startups more vibrant and sustainable,” said Maryam Javan Shahraki, UNIDO representative in Iran.

She added, “UNIDO looks forward to further extending our support to the government of Iran in its efforts to promote internationalization of ICT-related entrepreneurs through the virtual entrepreneurship hub that will become a major platform for knowledge exchange and support services for ICT startups, as well as facilitating partnerships with domestic and foreign partners and inter-institutional networking.”

As part of the public-private initiative, in cooperation with its national and international partners, UNIDO conducted a two-day workshop for major ICT sector stakeholders, including government entities, entrepreneurs and other key players, to present key findings of the initial phase of the project and the forthcoming action plan, while also providing an opportunity for a thorough exchange on how to reduce the existing  development gaps between science and industry thereby raising Iran’s profile as a knowledge-driven economy.

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