The Youth Skills Conference 2023, aiming to equip Bangladeshi youths with the knowledge necessary to make informed career choices in the context of sustainability, was held in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The conference, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the British Council, and powered by Futurenation, featured a series of insightful sessions and panel discussions.
The event commenced with a session conducted by AZM Saleh, monitoring and evaluation analyst of UNDP Bangladesh. He introduced young adults to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explained why and how they were formulated, and how they can be achieved.
The session also delved into the attainability of SDGs and the country's progress toward them.
Joya Chowdhury, an education specialist of the World Bank, conducted a session on "Green Skills for Future Employability". She discussed the green growth pathway, particularly targeting university students in the audience.
Sonia Mehzabeen, country coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers Bangladesh, explained the volunteering opportunities the UN provides. She explained how the UN volunteering system works and how students can join the UN as volunteers to make meaningful contributions to society.
She also showed a live demonstration on how to apply for becoming a United Nations Volunteer.
Aspiring volunteers may find future recruitment advertisements on United Nations Volunteers' social media accounts and website.
A standout feature of the event was the showcase of 13 youth-led projects representing innovative solutions and ideas from eight divisions of Bangladesh. These projects hold the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable development in the country.
Among other issues, the panel discussions delved deeper into the strategies individuals and teams can adapt to build capacities.
"To bring real change, we first need to raise awareness among Gen-G. It was a good event with diversified young people who came from different parts of the country to learn about SDGs and green skills. It was a delight to be a part of the event," said Mahmudul Hasan, youth coordinator of UNDP, who conducted a session.
The final session, Youth Talk, provided a platform for interaction between attendees and distinguished guests, including Nasreen Afroz, the executive chairman (secretary) of NSDA; Sarah Cooke, the British high commissioner to Bangladesh; Stefan Liller, resident representative of UNDP Bangladesh; Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone Ltd; and Tom Miscioscia, country director of the British Council Bangladesh.
Sarah Cooke, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, expressed her delight at seeing so many young people at the conference and emphasised the importance of promoting education and skills training to combat poverty, promote gender equality, and stimulate economic growth.
She encouraged women to take leadership roles and come up with innovative ideas to create more inclusive societies.
UNDP Bangladesh Resident Representative Stefan Liller said the future hinges on the skills possessed by young people, highlighting the importance of youth perspectives, energy, and meaningful participation in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous future for Bangladesh.
Tom Miscioscia, country director of the British Council Bangladesh, echoed the enthusiasm for the conference and the collaboration with UNDP in the Futurenation Programme.
He emphasised the British Council's commitment to supporting Bangladesh's next generation through education, skills development, and opportunities in English, education, and the arts.
"We did not know these things in detail. The sessions were really insightful, and I enjoyed them thoroughly, especially the one about UNV," commented Abdullah al Mosayeb, a student from Army Institute of Business Administration.
The event wrapped up on a high note with the launch of the Futurenation platform that incorporates self-assessment, personalised learning, and a job portal, aiming to foster knowledge, collaboration, and inspiration among Bangladesh's youth.
It will serve as a critical platform for the country's young generations to drive sustainable change and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.