By Abdel Rahman Ghandour
Libya has a young population; among the estimated 6.4 million population 24% are aged between 10 and 24. Yet despite their active role in 2011, young people’s needs have not been prioritized, nor their voices heard and as a consequence many increasingly feel left out of decisions affecting their future.
At UNICEF, this is something we hear time and time again, and is why, on International Youth Day, we are pledging to continue to support young Libyans across the country, delivering programmes focused on youth engagement, social inclusion and skills development.
Young people are the future of Libya.
They are the ones who are key in the building of Libyan society and political systems, but their needs need to be prioritized.
While access to education in Libya is high, it is clear that in its present state it is not equipping the younger generations with the skills they need to succeed in the national and international labour markets.
In particular, technical and vocational education are lacking.
There simply aren’t the systems and training schemes in place to enable young people to get jobs and give them the skills required to set up their own businesses and enterprises.
With unemployment currently standing at 48 per cent among youth in Libya, this has to change.
Through funding from the EU and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, at UNICEF we are currently mapping the current technical and vocational training system in Libya.
We want to identify the gaps and moving forward involve stakeholders from across the private sector, municipalities and educational institutions in developing a plan to ensure that all Libyan youth are able to realize their dreams and contribute positively to their society.
Already this has seen some progress.
In 2018, UNICEF has concluded the mapping and validation of the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) system in Libya.
The mapping is a baseline on which UNICEF will continue to build on the ongoing work of TVET, to coordinate with Ministry of Education on the design and implementation of all interventions to ensure that challenges are identified and addressed.
In Zintan, al-Bayda, Sabha and Zuwara, we have also partnered with the local municipalities to provide life-skills opportunities for over 1,000 youth and adolescents.
We are setting up much needed youth centers and training young people to be leaders, entrepreneurs and play an active part in their communities through local youth councils.
Safe spaces are desperately needed for young people in Libya, which is why I am pleased to see it as the focus of this year’s International Youth Day.
Across the country there is a lack of spaces within which, Libyan youth can come together, express their thoughts, develop ideas and mix with those from inside and outside their own communities.
Without the existence of such safe spaces, youth from diverse backgrounds, refugees, migrants or different ethnicities feel intimidated to freely contribute to their society.
On the other hand, increased opportunities and spaces to play sport, learn skills and meet new friends will all contribute to a more inclusive society, deconstructing barriers of judgment, hate speech, harassment and violence.
There is no overnight fix to ensure a brighter future for Libyan youth.
It will be a long-term process that needs the involvement of all, not just us at UNICEF.
But the benefits are clear; without the integration of youth, barriers to a successful economy and political transition will remain. A worrying thought for all.
Abdel Rahman Ghandour UNICEF Special Representative for Libya