Historic youth agreement to bring increased skills to over 250 million young people

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Commonwealth forms Alliance with global youth organisations on skills building for young people

Kigali, Rwanda – A new era of youth empowerment began today with a historic agreement between the Commonwealth Secretariat and some of the world’s largest youth organisations.

The Memorandum of Understanding outlines the areas of cooperation between the partners and ratifies the formation of the Commonwealth Alliance for Quality Youth Leadership.

It was signed at the (CHOGM) by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, and heads and representatives of its partners, which include:

  •  AIESEC
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award (The Award)
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO)
  • World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA)
  • World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM)
  • World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)
  • World Alliance of Young Men’s Christian Association (World YMCA).

Together, the organisations already work with at least 250 million young people and have contributed to the empowerment of more than one billion in the last century. 

The agreement comes at a time when the prospects of young people in the Commonwealth have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Approximately 60% of the unemployed in Commonwealth countries are young people and millions more have experienced disruption to their schooling, making non-formal education and learning even more integral.

It includes commitments to work together to promote volunteerism; offer young people the practical experiences needed to compete in the labour market; create an environment where collaboration and innovation can thrive; and support the development of leadership and useful life skills.

Speaking at the signing, Secretary-General Scotland said:

“This is a historic moment for youth development in the Commonwealth. I have just come from our Intergenerational Dialogue where our young people have very eloquently outlined their vision for sustainable youth-led development in the Commonwealth, and where leaders have answered with a pledge to support them.

“This Alliance was built to help us re-imagine education, creating services to our young people, which ensure they have all the practical support they need to be innovators, changemakers and to truly take charge of their future.”

The organisations will work with Commonwealth members to directly enhance the leadership and life skills of millions of young people by 2030.

Specific objectives of the Alliance include:

  1. Accelerating youth leadership skills training, using non-formal education and learning approaches, to reach over 100 million young people by 2030;
  1. Harnessing the vast potential and contribution of young people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals;
  1. Developing the wider ‘soft’ or ‘core’ skills – such as resilience, teamwork adaptability, problem solving, decision making and communication – which can help young people to ensure they are ready for the world of work post COVID-19.

In a statement issued on the day of the signing, HRH, The Prince Edward Earl of Wessex and Forfar said:

“This Memorandum of Understanding represents a statement of intent and willingness by a number of youth organisations to dramatically improve the opportunities of young people throughout the Commonwealth to access non-formal education and learning. As many of you know, my father, The late Duke of Edinburgh, was a great advocate of such opportunities and encouraged millions to experience personal achievement. Yet that was over many years, we need to provide those benefits and that effect to millions of young people every year, now.”

The Alliance is one of the many tangible outcomes of the 26th CHOGM in Rwanda that will deliver on the Commonwealth’s commitment to creating a common future for all.