Helping young people to fulfill their potential benefits everyone

Support and guidance is critical at a time when they face extraordinary economic, social and cultural challenges

Majda Al Riyani, 29, teaches Arabic calligraphy to young girls at a training centre in Benghazi, Libya on March 15, 2022. Young people need a wide variety of skills to thrive in work and life. Reuters
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Around the world, young people are known as catalysts for transformation and progress. Filled with boundless potential, optimism and energy, the youth represent a country’s aspirations and possess the power to inspire positive changes in governance and social mechanisms. When properly channeled, youth energy becomes a driving force for a nation’s advancement and prosperity.

However, without proper care and guidance, the potential of young people may remain unfulfilled, especially at a time when they face extraordinary economic, social and cultural challenges, and need a wide variety of skills to thrive in work and life, including basic literacy and numeracy, digital and interpersonal expertise.

According to a report by the Education Commission and Unicef, three quarters of young people aged between 15 and 24 are off track when it comes to gaining the skills they need for employment. Further, one in three young women is not learning, training or working. This could prove disastrous for all our development work and strides towards prosperity unless nations and organisations invest considerable effort in guiding their youth population on to the right path.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are many countries that have been doing exceedingly well in this regard. And the benefits of it are there for everyone to see. A stellar example of this approach can be found in our own country, which has extensively invested in young people as change agents. Recognising that a vision for the future relies on the skills, energy, enthusiasm and commitment of young Emiratis, the UAE ensures their voices are heard and their views are shared, paving a clear path to progress and prosperity.

As a national organisation dedicated to promoting economic and social development in the developing world, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development follows a visionary model, placing youth welfare at the heart of all its development efforts. One way we address the issue is by actively engaging in collaborations and forming partnerships with likeminded global organisations. Together, we strive to foster positive change by addressing the pressing need for increased education, training and employment opportunities for young people on an unprecedented level.

Our projects span Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Last year, we reached significant milestones, including the establishment of five colleges in Jordan, covering commerce, engineering, nursing and pharmacy programmes. We also funded the construction and equipping of an energy research and studies centre at Al Hussein bin Talal University in Maan.

In Morocco, we carried out a project to establish and equip 13 training and vocational institutes. We also constructed and expanded three on-campus residences for female university students across various Moroccan cities.

In Sudan, we made a substantial impact by funding educational materials for 400,000 students, contributing to the development of the country’s education system and preparing students for success in modern classrooms.

Our goal is to equip young people with the tools they need to build a better world

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we remained responsive to domestic requirements, offering financial support of Dh53 million ($14.4 million) to Bloom Education as part of our Dh1 billion initiative. This support helped the organisation maintain its financial stability and contribute to the national economy.

Our focus on youth empowerment extended to various sectors, including renewable energy, tourism, transport, agriculture and industry. Wherever we implemented projects, we ensured they generated employment opportunities, empowered young people and bridged gender gaps.

We understand that to usher in real socioeconomic transformation, we need to empower young people. We have consistently done so either by directly undertaking youth-oriented projects or by implementing projects that would generate large-scale opportunities for them to contribute to their national economies.

Since its establishment in 1971, ADFD has funded projects in 103 developing countries, making significant contributions to their economies and driving important societal changes. Our total finance and investment to date has exceed Dh150 billion.

Our success has inspired us to do more for youth empowerment. Embracing new technologies and global energy transformation, we are expanding our efforts to forge partnerships with various organisations. These collaborations aim to impart new-age skills to young people, fostering environmentally sustainable decision making.

Our goal is to equip young people with the tools they need to build a better world. Green skills hold particular importance for younger generations, as they can contribute to the green transition. The successful shift towards a more sustainable world hinges on equipping the population with essential green qualifications.

The impact of all our efforts will truly matter only if we can come together to work towards a shared objective of empowering young people. It’s an endeavour that calls for unity. Apart from the consequences of our initiatives at both the international and national levels, our goal is to ignite a passion that inspires more individuals and organisations to give priority to this cause.

By investing in young people, we are essentially securing a future they rightfully deserve. It is about creating a world where everyone can pursue their dreams and achieve any aspiration they dare to imagine.

Published: August 14, 2023, 4:00 AM