Hot Issues of Skills Development

This page provides summaries of previous and relevant research on skills development.

SKY[Skills and Knowledge for Youth] home Hot Issues of Skills Development Resolving Youth Unemployment: Young Women and Digital Economy

Resolving Youth Unemployment: Young Women and Digital Economy Adefolake Adeniyi
  • Skills Needed in Labour Market and Issues Related to Skills of Workers

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), youth employment is still a global challenge as well as a priority policy concern across the world. High numbers of employed young people living in poverty, high rates of youth unemployment, and rates of youth ‘Not in Education, Employment, or Training’ (NEET) make youth employment a global concern (Robinson et al., 2018). Also, there exist disparities in young women’s and young men’s participation rates in the labour force; and it is persistent. Persistent inequalities are evident in their earnings, amount of time spent, productivity and their types of jobs (Robinson et al., 2018). Interestingly, recently, studies have shown that it is not only the right thing to reduce gender inequality, but that it also makes economic sense to do so. It could be both socially and economically transformative.

Technological revolution can propel people beyond barriers – social, physical, and economic – that are between them and a decent job, although it can also make them unemployed. It has the potential to open up opportunities that were once beyond their imaginations or that even never existed in their dreams.

In the Age of Change, digital technology is rapidly transforming the world of work as well as organisations skills profiles. The need for skilling and reskilling continue to be on the increase, and lifelong learning is now more critical than ever. Nevertheless, skills mismatch continues to lock youth, especially young women, out of digital employment opportunities. Globally, the percentage of men that use the internet is 12% more than that of women. Likewise, rates of internet users are lower for women compared to men in almost every region of the world. (Robinson et al., 2018). Traditional employment programs for youth mostly focus on the supply-side, at the expense of the demand-side, thereby, not bridging the skills gap.

Digital work refers to every work that utilises digital technology, or that is achieved by digital technology (Robinson et al., 2018). For youth to participate actively as well as contribute to the digital economy, they need to acquire/develop appropriate digital skills. The required skillsets depend on the level of expertise that might be required by specific digital works. More so, digital skills exist on a continuum. They exist from fundamental skills to intermediate skills and then, advance skills. These skills, as described by Robinson et al. (2018), are ‘a combination of behaviours, expertise, know-how, work habits, character traits, dispositions and critical understandings’. It is, therefore, important, for employment programs designed for youth to design strategies that will consider both the demand-side and supply-side of digital work simultaneously (World Bank, 2019). There is also a need to integrate, at all levels of education, gender-inclusive digital skills courses as well as provide equivalent training for women and out-of-school girls (Robinson et al., 2018).


Robinson, Danielle Simone; Datta, Namita; Massey, Emily; Kgasago, Tshegofatso; Jakoet, Mishkah; Glick, Peter J.; Carew, Diana Gehlhaus; Edochie, Ifeanyi; McLaughlin, Delores; Small, Andrew (2018) Digital Jobs for Youth: Young Women in the Digital Economy (English). Solutions for Youth Employment. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.
ILO (n.d). Youth employment. International Labour Organization. Retrieved from:—ed_emp/documents/publication/wcms_547338.pdf
World Bank (2019) World Development Report. 2019. The changing nature of work. World Bank Group. Retrieved from: