Skills Development amid COVID-19: Have Your Say



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In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. The 2020 topic is Skills for a Resilient Youth in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.

World Youth Skills Day 2020 will take place in a challenging context. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have led to the worldwide closure of technical and vocational education and training institutions, threatening the continuity of skills development.

Prior to the current crisis, young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and often faced a prolonged school-to-work transition period. In COVID-19 affected societies, as young people are called upon to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience to adapt to future disruptions. 

Rising youth unemployment has become one of the most significant problems facing economies and societies in today’s world. Data in May 2020 for G7 countries are Canada 29.7 per cent; USA 20.7 per cent; Italy 23.5 per cent; France 21.2 per cent; UK 11.8 per cent; Germany 5.4 per cent and Japan 3.8 per cent. Youth unemployment in the European Union is of concern as well. For example, in Spain is 32.9 per cent, Luxemburg 26.1 per cent, Finland 25.2 per cent; and Croatia 16.4 per cent.

The private sector is a key actor in the discussion. Young people are more willing to work for companies that care and support the Sustainable Development Goals, the Women’s Empowerment Principles, respect gender equality and have a reach diversity and inclusion policy. Committed companies lead by example, showcasing their commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Community leadership and engagement can take many forms. Companies can leverage influence, alone or in partnership, to advocate for gender equality and collaborate with business partners, suppliers, and community leaders to promote inclusion.

The event will showcase the public and private sectors’ roles in facilitating young employees or prospective employees’ access to the skills required in the job market and in the digital economy. The panelists will speak about practical policies, practices, and services that governments or companies could develop, implement and practice to increase youth employment and engagement policies.




Opening remarks:

Ana Guallarte, Programme Manager for the Foreign Policy Instrument of the European Union (EU) at the EU Mission in Canada

Panel discussion:

Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, Director, Digital Leadership Institute

Deloris Wilson, Founder/Principal, Axl and iCON

Lu Zhang, Founder & Managing Partner, Fusion Fund

Pip Gardner, LGBTQI+ leader and activist; UN Women's Beijing+25 Youth Task Force Member

Moderated by:

Diana Rusu, Policy Specialist, Innovation and Knowledge Management for Women's Economic Empowerment, WE EMPOWER - G7 Programme, UN Women




Ana Guallarte, Programme Manager for the Foreign Policy Instrument of the European Union (EU) at the EU Mission in Canada

Programme Manager for the Foreign Policy Instrument of the European Union (EU) at the EU Mission in Canada, currently managing  WE EMPOWER - G7, a partnership action between the EU, UN WOMEN and ILO to promote Women Economic Empowerment at Work through Responsible Business Conduct.

Served to the EU External Action Service for more than 14 years promoting EU Cooperation with third countries, during this period has been based in several countries such Botswana, The Gambia, Belgium, Romania, Cuba and Canada.

Cheryl Miller Van DÿckDirector, Digital Leadership Institute

Che is Director of the Digital Leadership Institute, a Brussels-based international nonprofit promoting inclusive digital transformation. In 2018, Google and the Financial Times placed Che among the 100 Digital Pioneers of Europe, and in the same year, Che received a coveted Global Mobile Industry Individual Leader Award. In 2019, the United Nations recognized DLI for its global leadership in digital inclusion.

Che has held progressive IT leadership roles in the automotive, telecom, cybersecurity and banking sectors in Asia, Europe+Russia, and the US. A noted figure in European technology policy, Che has spent the last ten years advocating at the highest level and leading global digital skills and entrepreneurship campaigns that leverage disruptive technologies for the world's most vulnerable communities.

Currently Che serves as European Union delegate and expert on digital inclusion and entrepreneurship to the G20/W20, governing board-member of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition for Europe, board-member of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform, Women's Entrepreneurship Day Ambassador and AWS Cloud Ambassador. Che is also advisor to European Commission projects promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in RD&I, and ethics in AI and big data.

Che has a degree in International Relations, Law & Organizations from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a Master of International Business Studies from the Moore School of Business at USC. Che is both Belgian and American, and speaks, reads and writes English, Japanese, Dutch, French, Italian and Russian.

Deloris Wilson, Founder/Principal - Axl Impact Studio, Co-Founder - iCON Next Gen Technologies, and Impact/Strategy Lead at HBCUvc

Deloris (Dela) Wilson is a social impact strategist, researcher, and entrepreneur focused on building economies that center Black and indigenous thought. Her work seeks to decolonize development efforts through social entrepreneurship - empowering communities to solve their own problems through a redirection of capital and access.

Dela has worked across eight countries to enhance corporate impact strategies, catalyze efficiencies in the delivery of public programs, seed innovation in post-colonial states, and design programs to both train and fund small and medium-sized enterprises owned by founders of color. Her publications on entrepreneurial ecosystem development, integrative approaches in public health, and transnational racial equity span Georgetown University’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University, The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

As Founder/Principal of Axl Impact Studio, she serves as an advisor and strategist to startups and institutions committed to equity and localized impact at scale. Her approach fuses data science, human-centered design and community integration to seed and incubate sustainable efforts across entrepreneurial ecosystem development, arts and social justice, education, and economic development. Axl supports a diverse client base including HBCUvc, One Community/Warner Bros, BEACON: The D.C. Women Founders Initiative, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, Black Girl Ventures, the Minority Business Development Agency, and Alice. She is also the co-founder of iCON, creating the world’s largest opportunity accelerator for the next gen, currently in private beta.

She is a 31Under31 for the Future of Venture Capital, an Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and Forbes Mastermind. She is also a proud graduate of Spelman College (summa cum laude) and earned professional degrees at Harvard Kennedy School of Government (MPA), and Georgetown Law (JD).

Lu Zhang, Founder & Managing Partner, Fusion Fund

Lu Zhang is the Founder and Managing Partner of Fusion Fund, a renowned Silicon Valley based investor, a serial entrepreneur and a Stanford Engineering alumna. Fusion Fund is active in supporting early-stage entrepreneurs who are looking to build globally disruptive companies using innovative technologies to drive systemic change originating from the U.S market. For the past couple of years, Lu leads the Fusion Fund team funnels exits of multiple portfolios’ IPO and M&As.

Lu received the title of 2018 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos). She has also garnered other accolades including the Featured Honoree in VC of Forbes 30 Under 30 (2017), Silicon Valley Women of Influence (2018), Town & Country 50 Modern Swans – Entrepreneurship Influencer (2017)andTop 10 All America Chinese Youth (2018).Prior to starting Fusion Fund, Lu was the Founder and CEO of a medical device company focused on non-invasive technology for the early diagnosis of Type II diabetes (acquired in 2012).

Lu is active in the entrepreneur and investor communities and serves as a board member and 2020 president forYouth Council of Future Forum.

Pip Gardner, LGBTQI+ leader and activist; Beijing+25 Youth Task Force Representative

Pip is a LGBTQI+ rights activist with a focus on sustainable development. They are the CEO of The Kite Trust, a charity for LGBTQ+ youth in the United Kingdom and volunteer with IFM-SEI – a co-operative youth movement focused on education for social change. Through their work with a variety of organizations, they have delivered non-formal education to mobilize young people for gender equality. In 2010, they set up an initiative that created a peer educator’s toolkit on gender equality and supported other young people to blog about their experiences. Pip is a member of UN Women’s Beijing+25 Youth Task Force and attended the 25th year Regional Review Meeting of the Beijing Platform for Action for the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Region.


Crises fall hardest on the most vulnerable. When it comes to the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, young people are more likely to feel the pinch harder.

Even in the best of times, young people faced a tough situation in the labour market. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic they were around three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. The crisis now threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities within and between countries.


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Event organized by WE EMPOWER - G7 Programme:

WE EMPOWER – G7: The Promoting the Economic Empowerment of Women at Work through Responsible Business Conduct in G7 Countries (WE EMPOWER – G7) programme is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UN Women and the International Labour Organization. WE EMPOWER – G7 convenes multistakeholder dialogues in G7 countries and the EU to exchange knowledge, experiences, good practices and lessons learned. WE EMPOWER – G7 also encourages firms of all sizes and in all industries to sign the Women’s Empowerment Principles and to galvanize their shareholders and stakeholders throughout their supply chains to drive change for gender equality. Signatories are role models for attracting talent role models for attracting talent, entering new markets and serving their communities, while measurably improving the bottom line.

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