Young people unable to access skills needed for today’s job market, new report says


Generation Unlimited, PwC and UNICEF urge governments and businesses to address global skills gap and decrease youth unemployment

London and New York, 10 December 2021 – Young people across the world aren’t able to identify or acquire the skills needed for today’s job market, contributing to a global skills gap and exacerbating youth unemployment, according to a new report published today by Generation Unlimited, PwC and UNICEF.

Reaching YES: Addressing the Youth Employment and Skilling Challenge notes that young people aged 15-24 years old are unable to identify which skills they need for future employment opportunities. Young people are also unable to access relevant skills training and employers lack a standard way to verify the skills new employees claim to have.

The report notes there is a disconnect between requirements and education and training systems. For example, young people unable to access the internet aren’t able to access training opportunities online. Where skills are acquired, young people need a way of verifiably, accurately and securely tracking and sharing these with employers.

“A global skills gap, economic decline and an employment market that requires more complex and diverse skills than ever before have contributed to a 12 percent drop in youth employment over the past two decades. Governments and businesses must come together to give today’s young people – future earners and employees – the skills and opportunities they need to access meaningful employment and thrive in today’s job market,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

Bob Moritz, PwC Global Chairman: “Looking at the world today, we see a huge mismatch between the skills young people have and the skills employers need. Without opportunities to build the right skills, millions of youth will struggle to find jobs and risk being left behind. We can’t let that happen. That’s why it’s crucial for governments, businesses, educators and civil society leaders to rapidly come together more so than ever before to address this gap. In doing so, we can begin to create sustained outcomes for young people and more inclusive economies and societies.”

Kevin Frey, Generation Unlimited CEO: “Young people are standing on the edge of a precipice: the compounding threats of deepening inequalities, lack of opportunities, and COVID-19 disruptions will have lifelong consequences for youth globally. Business executives, government ministers and civil society leaders must come together and join forces with young people to address the systemic challenges that hold youth back from reaching their full potential. The need is urgent, the time is now, and 1.8 billion young people are waiting.”

The report provides four steps that businesses and government leaders could take to address the skills gap and youth unemployment.

  • Create a skill mapping system to define skills, categories and ways to measure competence. The system should be scalable and adaptable for local and national applications. A skilling tracker is key to identifying the gap and making the case for educational and training opportunities. 
  • Use corporate training to support a national skills-building engine. By pairing elements from corporate training programs with a government-led national policy framework, stakeholders can help establish a national skills development program that is high-quality, scalable, and cost efficient. 
  • Build a national digital skills verification trust. Youth should be able to register and store skills’ development credentials easily and securely. Stakeholders can help by developing a central blockchain repository for tracking acquisition. 
  • Develop regional and national skills forums to improve information sharing among key stakeholders including employers, educators, governments, associations and youth.  

The report notes that addressing the skills gap requires a ‘whole of society’. Partnerships between government, business, multilaterals, and young people themselves are central to succeeding.

The collaboration between UNICEF and PwC formed in 2020 and supports the World Economic Forum’s “Reskilling Revolution Platform,” of which both are founding partners. The platform aims to provide better jobs, education, and skills to one billion people in the next 10 years.

As part of the collaboration, PwC’s skills, expertise and resources support Generation Unlimited, a global partnership anchored in UNICEF, that works with young people so they can successfully transition from education and training to decent work. PwC and Generation Unlimited will convene public, private and civil society stakeholders to develop investment opportunities, programmes and innovations that support young people in their path to productive futures and engaged citizenship.


The report is the second in a series of reports by Generation Unlimited, PwC and UNICEF on youth skilling and employment. The previous report focused on the “digital divide” among young people and highlighted barriers preventing young people from accessing employment. Obstacles included connectivity issues with lack of internet access and hardware; lack of access to health, nutrition and protection; digital literacy and access to education about how to safely and productively use digital tools; and work-ready skills and access to advanced education, training, platforms and opportunities.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit

About Generation Unlimited

Launched by the UN Secretary-General at the 2018 UN General Assembly, Generation Unlimited is a leading global Public-Private-Youth Partnership on a mission to skill and connect the world’s 1.8 billion young people to opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and social impact. Anchored in UNICEF, the partnership brings together global organizations and leaders including Heads of State, CEOs, Heads of UN agencies, and civil society champions with young people to co-create and deliver innovative solutions on a global scale.


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