Abu Dhabi: In order to support sustainable future communities, a declaration drafted by 300 young professionals during the first WorldSkills Youth Forum has called for education reform, and a focus on technical and vocational education and training.

The youth declaration, drafted by professionals aged 17 to 32 years, was presented on Monday at the opening of the WorldSkills conference, which was attended by 30 ministers and hundreds of industry leaders from across the world.

“The skills we learn now can open doors for us in the future,” said Sara Ahmad, an Emirati engineer at the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, who helped draw up the declaration.

“Everyone can excel at their chosen skill, if they are given the chance [through education], added Maryam Al Hashimi, another Emirati who attended the Forum.

Detailed in 18 articles, the declaration said that education must be made flexible, and create a balance between soft and academic skills. Knowledge seeking should also become a lifelong practice so that skilled youths can thrive in a complex future.

In addition, governments should play an active role in supporting the development of new technical and vocational skills. They should recognise and promote role models in these fields, and also assist in the increasing of funding for such vocational education and training. At the same time, vocational education should be incorporated in school curricula, as this can help uncover hidden talents among students.

The professionals also urged the embedding of an entrepreneurial mindset within educational institutes, adding that platforms should b established to share problems and expose people to different perspectives.

The professionals had held online discussion for two months, culminating in the two-day Youth Forum that was held alongside WorldSkills 2017. The WorldSkills events are being held alongside the WorldSkills 2017 competition, a vocational skills competition that is seeing 1,300 participants from 60 countries pitting their skills against one another in the capital until Wednesday.