As part of an ongoing effort to raise the visibility of workable solutions to youth unemployment worldwide, staff from the International Youth Foundation (IYF) joined participants from more than 50 countries who gathered in Washington, DC, last week for the 2013 Global Youth Economic Opportunities conference.  

This three-day event, organized by Making Cents International, brought together nonprofits, private sector organizations, and government agencies to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding employment for the world’s 1.2 billion young people.

Mohammed AlMbaid, IYF’s Country Director for Palestine, joined representatives from Microsoft and Silatech to discuss the benefits and limitations of reaching youth with technology. “With funding from USAID and partnerships with Silatech, Palestinian universities, and youth-serving institutions,” said AlMbaid, “IYF was able to utilize technology effectively to provide more Palestinian youth with career guidance services and hence create larger impact and scale.”

Daniel Oliver, IYF’s Director of Learning & Evaluation, spoke on a panel related to life skills and economic outcomes. As part of his presentation, he shared the findings of a recent IYF report, Testing What Works in Youth Employment: Evaluating Kenya’s Ninaweza Program, which examines how life skills training has positively impacted the confidence levels and job prospects of young women in Nairobi.

On the final day of the conference, IYF Program Director Angie Venza joined representatives from Accenture and Hilton Worldwide to talk about the importance of soft skills training. The panel’s discussion drew on findings from Getting Youth in the Door: Defining Soft Skills Requirements for Entry-Level Service Sector Jobs, an IYF study that describes the knowledge about soft skills competencies needed for employment in that industry. Both Hilton and Accenture reinforced the value of soft skills such as communication, customer service, and responsibility for youth to be successful in hospitality and retail jobs. “Investing in these skills helps employers increase employee retention and provide more long-term career paths for young people in these sectors,” said Venza.

“IYF has been helping to develop a global community of action that places the youth unemployment crisis on the top of the international agenda, and we promote workable solutions,” said IYF President and CEO Bill Reese. “Participating in forums such as this one, where stakeholders from every sector and all parts of the globe share youth employment best practices, is critical to our collective ability to make progress on this issue.”