I love leveraging (exploiting!) days designated by the United Nations for my own program use. Why?
- Many of the days have a lead agency that builds a marketing campaign around the day’s theme. Any press or others paying attention to that campaign might, as a result, stumble upon whatever it is I’m trying to promote if I’ve aligned my messaging with the day.
- The lead agency marketing the day often creates a Twitter tag to go with the day, such as #humanitarianheroes for World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. I can use the tag on my own tweets about the activity I want to align with the day and any press or others paying attention to that hashtag might, as a result, stumble upon whatever it is I’m trying to promote.
So, for instance, those that promote volunteer engagement / volunteerism might want to pay attention to this: the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, that addresses issues relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world, proposed 15 July as World Youth Skills Day. “Recognizing that fostering the acquisition of skills by youth would enhance their ability to make informed life and work choices and empower them to gain access to changing labour markets, the General Assembly would, by the terms of the draft text, invite all Member States and international, regional and United Nations system organizations to commemorate World Youth Skills Day in an appropriate manner.” Here is the full text of document A/C.3/69/L.13/Rev.1. The UN General Assembly has now approved the designation, though the UN web site doesn’t reflect this at the time of this blog’s publication.
Millions of youth worldwide are unemployed, uneducated and un-engaged: 74.5 million in 2013, the majority of whom live in the developing countries. Teens and people in their 20s aren’t just bored – they are frustrated at how they are locked out of local decision-making as well as economic and life opportunities. These disengaged, disenfranchised youth are a growing concern of governments and various international organizations. For instance, you might recall that, in 2013, I was part of the ICT4EMPL Future Work project undertaken by the Information Society Unit of the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, a European Union (EU) body, to produce this paper: Internet-mediated Volunteering in the EU: Its history, prevalence, and approaches and how it relates to employability and social inclusion. As part of this project, I created a wiki of all of the various resources I used for my research, including a list of “>resources related to volunteering as a contributor to employability.
How could your nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO) or government program that involves volunteers or promotes volunteerism leverage this day?
- Start asking teens and 20 somethings that have volunteered at your organization, or various organizations, if volunteering has taught them skills or given them experience they were able to use to get a job or to advance in their careers. Ask them if they have ever been asked about their volunteering experience in a job interview. Put together an article to publish on your web site about the comments from these young people. And hold on to this data: maybe you could use it in a grant application to get more resources to help you involve even MORE youth volunteers. Compiling this information would be a wonderful task for a volunteer or group of volunteers – maybe even youth volunteers?!?
- Be on the lookout for a Twitter tag that might develop in conjunction with this day. I’ll certainly share such as soon as I know about it here on my blog. You can use this hashtag for tweets leading up to World Youth Skills Day that relate to youth volunteering at your organization that are learning skills they need for the work place and adult life.
- Publish a blog for World Youth Skills Day talking about how and why your organization recruits and involves teen and 20 something volunteers specifically, and how this involvement not only benefits your programs, but communities as well – today and in the future.
- Think about an event you might be able to host at your organization related to World Youth Skills Day.
Pay attention to the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training and to the United Nations Volunteers programme, part of UNDP, on Twitter and Facebook – those are the two most likely candidates to be the lead agencies for World Youth Skills Day. Even if it turns out to be another UN agency, I suspect UNEVOC and UNV will somehow be involved in activities related to the day. And I’ll share here on my blog what I learn.