The youth are the future!
We hear this phrase so much that it has become overused and unfortunately lost its clout. In fact, they are the future, they are the leaders of tomorrow, and they are the parents and grandparents of generations to come. But what are we doing to prepare them? With the world facing challenges now more than ever, be it education, job opportunities, environmental challenges, extremism, and terrorism, what are the tools and lessons learned we are giving them to make them stronger and know how to face whatever may come their way? How are we preparing them?
In the Arab world, our large population of talented and bright young people is among our greatest assets. Yet with the highest rates of youth unemployment, under-employment, and skill shortages in the world, our region will remain stagnated and blocked from fulfilling its potential. Silatech was conceived by the region for the region and beyond with a vision to unleash this potential.
Our name and our mission are all about connection — connecting needs with skills, connecting employers with job seekers, and connecting young people with opportunities.
Only when we connect the hopes and dreams of our youth with the tools to realize them will we build the strong Arab economies of tomorrow” – Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Chairperson and founder of Silatech, a Qatar-based nonprofit, non-governmental organization whose sole purpose is to empower youth.
Empowering youth must be multi-faceted at the state level, community level, and family level, each of these levels having its own set of responsibilities and tools it can utilize to empower the youth.
Here we will discuss five major ways we can empower youth at the community level.
Create community-based programs that help them express their opinions to give them a sense of identity and belonging. It will help them create strong ties to the community and give them a sense of importance. Listen to their point of views and don’t judge; instead, guide them to refine their ideas, discuss with them respectfully, and assure them that their voices matter and what they do makes a difference. They have the power to create the change they want to see in their communities.
- Encourage them to follow their passions. Involve scholars, professionals, and volunteers from the community to mentor them and guide them on how to plan, execute, and follow their passions the right way. Tell them that they won’t always have someone listening and that they need to fight sometimes for what they believe in. Not everyone is willing to listen and mentor, but this should never be the reason for them to quit. There will always be another person or another way to get it done.
- Share with them success stories of youth who worked hard and fought to achieve the successes they have now. These powerful personal stories will motivate and encourage them to do better and counter any negative messages surrounding young people. Hold workshops and seminars with successful persons as speakers to share with them their personal journey to inspire them to do the same.
- Encourage them to start now. It’s never too early or too late to start developing good habits. Persistence and constant personal progression are the most important things when it comes to accomplishing goals combined with the guidance, mentoring, and opportunities.
- Show them that their opinions matter and what they have to say is important, engage them in decision-making, and give them the responsibility and the power to better the community, to pass the torch, so to speak.
- Treat them with humility. Remember they are just starting to learn to integrate into society in the larger sense, so give them confidence and always be patient. They need all the guidance and help they can get.
We’ve secured commitments that will lead to the creation of two million jobs by 2020 for youth, especially the marginalized segments of the youth, taking into consideration their individual differences, the disparity in their potential, and the structural differences of the countries in which we operate
Let’s all make it a priority to empower our younger selves for our communities, our region, our world, and our future.