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Many countries, one voice: the world’s youth speak out on the future of skills at unique WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 Youth Forum

14 October 2017

A unique opportunity for the global voice of youth to have its say on the future of vocational skills is taking place on the sidelines of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

The first International TVET Youth Forum will be held from 14-15 October, alongside the 44th edition of the world’s largest and most prestigious skills competition, as young professionals from around the world who have spent months discussing and analyzing global skills challenges while based in their own countries finally come together to send a united message.

This Declaration will be presented to global decision-makers on the opening day of the WorldSkills Conference 2017, taking place from 16-17 October at ADNEC, and is designed to launch a skills legacy, providing a foundation for further discussion that catalyzes tangible action and ensures WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 leaves an enduring mark on the vocational skills landscape.

About half of the Youth Forum participants have been selected from across the UAE, with the range of international participants giving the event a truly global flavor. Ahead of the event, they have spoken of the value of enabling them to play a part in building a TVET framework that enables vocational skills to meet the demands of the future, and for the dreams and aspirations of youth to become reality.

“I really think that young people with different backgrounds, in an environment that makes them feel free to express their ideas, can create innovative solutions,” said Giovanni Shiroma, of Brazil, who participated in the online form focusing on Happiness and Tolerance, with his Emirati team-mate Fatima Al Yousuf adding: “To me, the principle of inclusiveness in any workspace makes sense, because it means you have a diverse range of people looking at solutions with different vision.”

Almaha Al Saman Al Nuami, from the UAE, believes the Youth Forum has allowed young people to think about and devise “smarter methods that will enable students and experts to interact and talk about the future, and how current and future generations will adapt to it”. Meanwhile, Peer-Mike Sikma, of Germany, explained: “Academic education is important for learning about problems that have already been solved, but vocational education offers us the opportunity to try to forecast the needs, changes, and problems of tomorrow.

Since August, participants from different corners of the globe have teamed up, through online forums, in ‘Think Tanks’ formed to address issues central to the future role of technical and vocational education and training, including ‘Industry 4.0’ or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Global Citizenship, the Green Economy, and Happiness and Tolerance. Through these web meetings, they have shared their opinions, their research, and their personal experiences of the wide world of skills.

Supported by professional facilitators and expert mentors, more than 3,000 chat messages have been swapped between participants ahead of the Youth Forum. And now virtual connections are being replaced by actual connections, as they meet for the first time in Abu Dhabi with the aim of ensuring the ideas and desires of youth help to ensure vocational skills and training are fit for purpose in the economies of today and tomorrow.

During the Youth Forum at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), 300 young professionals from 70 countries - all aged from 17-32, and with skills ranging from plastering and nursing to electrics and beauty therapy – will be empowered by inspiring insights from leading experts in a variety of skills areas and the TVET ecosystem, and participate in workshops and breakout sessions to finalize a Youth Declaration on the future of skills and TVET.

“Therefore, TVET is about developing ideas and solutions out of different ways of thinking. This is what makes TVET so special – for us, and for our future.”


Participants have also opened a window on their own way of thinking ahead of the Forum, with Tania Nascimento Gaspar of Mexico describing “skills, communication, creativity and hard work" as the pathway to “the smart city of the future”. Brian Perry of Trinidad & Tobago believes investment in a younger workforce will see them gain the experience and knowledge that allows them to “train and teach other millennials”, while Ana Maria Cosma from Romania said: “I think each person is born with some special qualities, and it is very important for young people to find the specific thing they are good at and then develop their skills in that field.”

 Alia Alkaabi, of the UAE, expressed her view that “technology is giving us a spur to create new jobs that never existed before”, and that it should be viewed through the prism of “transforming jobs, rather than replacing them”; with her fellow Emirati Noor Abdulla AlShamsi saying: “TVET provides students with the appropriate tools to make sure their vision can be used in the real world, and to promote innovation and creativity.”

Meanwhile, Maitha Salem Al Memari, of the UAE, spoke of the importance of social entrepreneurship, which she believes has the dual purpose of invigorating economies while also addressing social and community needs. “In my opinion, there should be more focus on social entrepreneurship, in the Middle East and globally, as it not only incorporates skills, but also ensures sustainability,” she said.

“If a community and its people encourage and support modern-day skills and education, and are not afraid of change, we will achieve prosperity because society will be willing to adapt to a constantly-changing world, which I believe is what is needed in order to be global citizens and to compete and contribute.”

And Buhle Makama, of South Africa, struck a similar tone, saying: “It is vital for a person to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, so that they can push boundaries and take risks – it gives them, and those around them, an opportunity to grow.”

Welcome addresses at the Youth Forum will be given by His Excellency Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister for Education, Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and His Excellency Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Among those delivering the inspirational keynote speeches will be Alia Al Mansoori, a teenage Emirati inventor and aspiring astronaut, who this year won the Genes in Space UAE competition. It led to her winning experiment - a study of proteins in DNA that could help astronauts avoid cell damage during long flights - taken aboard a Falcon-9 rocket and launched into space from the NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Central Florida.

For more information about the Youth Forum, visit