International Youth Day

International Youth Day: the skills that Latin American youth must incorporate to achieve the economic recovery in the region

Today, as we celebrate the International Youth Day, more than ever it
is important to take advantage of LATAM young talent and encourage them to keep learning and dare to do more!

In Latin America we have the enormous challenge of working for the economic recovery of the region and our contribution focuses on developing in young people the skills that the labor market needs.
In this context, how can we contribute to economic recovery of our region through education? Why is it important to innovate in the education sector to prepare youth for the future of work?

Youth employment and economic inequality are two of the most pressing challenges facing the region today. Nearly 30 million young people are neither attending school nor seeking employment, of which 2/3 of them are women. Additionally, 50% of companies in the region struggle to find skilled labor.

Some predictions indicate that nearly 45% of current jobs are at risk of automation. That means that the biggest opportunities for young people are definitely in the STEM field, as part of the “knowledge economy” – an economic framework in which the creation, application and dissemination of knowledge generate prosperity-.

Together with JA Americas and Manpower we asked more than 3,000 young people between 18 and 29 years old in 14 countries of LATAM region:

  • Have they ever had diffculties to find a job in the last 12 months
  • Which are the reasons that they consider that they do not hire them?

80% of the young people interviewed said they had diffculties to find a job in the last 12 months and more than the half of them were not hired because of their lack of experience.

Although there is a similarity between what young people look for and what companies are offering,there is a gap.

SAP’s education initiatives for youth

SAP’s education initiatives help people reach the relevant skills to thrive and secure decent meaningful work in a digital world. In 2020, our digital skills and coding programs trained 117,000 teachers, engaged 2.3 million young people and spanned 113 countries.

Here’s one example: Ivana Pimentel, the 17 year-old student that was inspired by his participation in Latin Code Week program, where she was part of the winning team of Venezuela.

Today, Ivana studies Medicine and she is the Regional Head in an organization about STEM called The Dynamics and in the Interchange Community, which is dedicated to informing about scholarships internationally. She is also part of REDIELUZ (Student Research Network of the University of Zulia), where she is organizing a prototype of scientific research on the metabolic effect of vitamin D in patients with gastric bypass. As a hobby, Ivana has a blog with more than 3,000 followers where she promotes reading, reviewing and writing skills.

Latin Code Week is a high-impact program that seeks to consolidate thousands of young Latin Americans as the workforce of the future.
This year, this program co-created by SAP and Junior Americas celebrates the sixth year of impact in the region and, since its inception, has managed to benefit more than 7,000 students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, United States, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, with the support of more than 700 mentors who participated in virtual workshops that foster entrepreneurship and purposeful innovation.

There is nothing quite so compelling as seeing young people start to believe in themselves and understand their own power to change their circumstances.

The International Youth Day gives an opportunity to celebrate young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. However, it is also a great opportunity to understand their needs when trying to enter the job market, and create the ecosystem that will allow them to achieve their dreams.


What young people can do

  • Adapt to opportunities and to make a career in the organizations.
  • Get experience before ending their technical or professional careers.
  • Take additional courses to improve their employability such as English and soft skills, such as communication, leadership, decision taking).

What companies can do

  • Promote alternative models of work.
  • Strengthen laboral inclusion.
  • Training young people without experience on soft skills.
  • Invest on the development of young people.

What Social sector can do

  • Promote learning through experiences (to learn through projects).
  • Keep promoting the importance of developing a real Culture of Work.
  • Civil Society works focusing on the fact that crisis becomes a positive situation capable of bringing more social justice.

This article can be downloaded here.

Cristina Palmaka is President SAP Latin America & the Caribbean.

Leo Martellotto es President Junior Achievement Americas