The United Nations today established International Youth Day over twenty years ago, recognizing that young people can be a positive force for our collective development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive.
Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 percent of the global population. And by 2030—the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the U.N. 2030 Agenda—the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7 percent, to nearly 1.3 billion.
Findings from a new study by IBM and Morning Consult reveal this demographic knows technology will alter their future. Young people recognize skills like AI and data science will change their careers, and yet they feel unprepared to work with them. A majority (68%) of the 14-18-year-olds surveyed in the study believe that AI will have a very or somewhat big impact on their life and career, but nearly half (34%) said they do not feel properly equipped to use it.
The survey also asked teenagers to rank their knowledge about emerging technologies, their willingness to learn more about them and their interest in technology careers. A majority (56%) of students said they were interested in pursuing a career in technology. And while a majority (60%) were interested in emerging technology areas, such as cloud and cybersecurity, AI is the emerging tech that most students are interested in learning more about. Almost six in ten (59%) students said they were either somewhat or very interested in learning more about AI.
As a company committed to developing the next generation of diverse talent, we are listening –and taking action. Complementing a number of education efforts IBM is spearheading to build students’ academic, technical and professional skills, we are announcing free, new online resources for teachers and students with a focus on AI:
- Open P-TECH, a free digital education platform focused on emerging technologies and workplace learning, has launched an online course where users can earn a digital badge in AI Education. Created by ISTE, a nonprofit committed to solving tough problems in education, and IBM especially for high school students, users can learn the foundational concepts behind AI systems, consider the ethical implications of AI, explore applications of AI tools, and more. Learn more and sign up here.
- IBM AI Education is an immersive, online professional learning suite created in partnership with MindSpark Learning providing free live and on-demand institutes and webinars crafted by and for educators. The nine institutes guide K-12 educators through AI’s foundational concepts and K-12 classroom connections, with topics including introduction to AI, natural language processing, ethics, robotics, and more. They will also have the chance to earn an IBM AI Foundations for Educators digital badge and become equipped to share the foundational knowledge of artificial intelligence with their colleagues and students in their classrooms. Learn more and sign up here.
- Teacher Advisor with Watson is a free online tool designed to help K-8 teachers more efficiently meet the individual learning needs of their students. A new partnership with NWEA, a research-based not-for-profit organization that creates academic assessments for students in grades pre-K-12, is linking their MAP Recommendation Tool to Teacher Advisor. It uses Watson Discovery to enable teachers to receive targeted content recommendations based upon a student’s assessment score. Teachers can try it out here.
We know that as a company bringing advanced technologies into the marketplace, we have a deep responsibility to ensure that learners have the skills required to participate in the digital economy, with deliberate actions to be more inclusive, not less. We’re excited to bring these new tools, in collaboration with our expert partners, to young people around the world.
As UN Secretary General António Guterres said, “Young people are on the vanguard of progress, as entrepreneurs, activists and community leaders. They inspire change.”
Today is an important reminder for everyone about the importance of coming together to give our young people the skills to do so.
 Study took place in February 2020 and was sent to 3,635 Gen Z aged students 14-18 years old in thirteen countries.