A Sustainable Greener Future Needs Green Employment Skills.FT International Summer School Reykjavik.

Updated: Sep 1

Recently, I was invited by Youth Time International Movement to cover their International Youth Summer School in Reykjavik Iceland. The Youth Time International Movement successfully organized the event despite the current pandemic and I personally know many of the participants which were not able to attend the event due to travel restrictions, so let me give you a recap of the whole event.

Dear Reader, have you ever considered, how the fast-paced advancement in technology is going to impact us in the near future? Where have we come from and where are we headed? How digital advancement will gradually map out new socio-economic configurations and how it can impact our jobs? These and some other questions of a related nature were the subjects of engagement and discussion at this year`s International Youth Summer School organized by the Youth Time International Movement. The ethical consideration under spotlight of this year`s Global Youth Forum was titled "Future Skills for Workplace Sustainability: Preparing for Transition". So, it was primarily about how the profiles of different professions will change, which trends in technology, digitization and automation are expected and, last but not the least, which skills will be essential to compete against digital advancements and create workplace sustainability.


Youth Time International Movement is an internationally oriented non-profit, non-political organization founded by Ms. Julia Kinash, which actively represents a platform of dialogue between cultures and generations. They inspire and engage young people from all over the world, by encouraging them to develop their social leadership skills as well as to take upon their civic responsibility. Youth Time provides opportunities to take part in various projects, to help youth acquire new knowledge and skills in the social and public sphere as well as to build up relations with other young social leaders.

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What follows is my account of the Youth Time`s International Youth Summer School. For an ease of reading experience, I have divided my rumination on the experience in two sections; the first of which briefly summarises the whole event and introduces you to some of the many amazing young leaders I met there and the second section is dedicated to my intellectual take-aways from the thematic engagements of this forum, which are hoped to provide food for thought for the readers and build healthy discussion and communal engagement around..

A Quick Travelogue

I received an invitation to attend the summer school as a journalist in mid of June and I immediately contacted the representative of Iceland in Pakistan (Denmark) for submission of visa application and I was informed that you cannot travel to the EU due to travel restrictions amid COVID-19. That reply was a real let down but then I decided to find a way out and so I contacted Iceland Government directly to seek the approval. I would like to appreciate his excellency Mr.Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Foreign Minister of Iceland for positive intervention and for granting visa a day before my flight. Also, I would like to pay my gratitude to Navena Saulic and Juliette Servais from Youth Time International Movement for their constant support and for making it possible for me to attend the Summer School.

So, on 8-August-2020, I reached Islamabad Airport for my 48 hours flight The airport didn’t have many people and everyone seemed scared of the other person. It took more time than usual for checking in and boarding. The airplane experience was also quite frustrating. Every passenger was supposed to wear a mask for the whole flight, and you will not be served any meal except the water bottle they give you when you enter the airplane. It took us six hours to reach Istanbul and as soon we landed, I was in search of restaurants as was starving with hunger, but every single restaurant was closed due to COVID. I will like to appreciate the PR department of Turkish Airlines for responding to the email and arranging food and later booked a hotel for me. So after 20 hours, I took my next flight to Copenhagen Denmark and again had the same experience in the airplane and on Copenhagen Airport.

The only difference was that the Denmark authorities were stricter in implementing SOPs. I had 7 hours of transit and after that, I was again an airplane for the next 5 hours. The Government of Iceland seemed more serious than any other state in combating Covid-19. Every passenger arriving in Iceland had to go through a mandatory coronavirus test and it took me literally 4 hours to get the test done. So, traveling during travel restrictions is tiring and can be frustrating but giving this much effort for attending Youth Time’s event is worth-able. The detailed travelogue would be available soon so don't forget to subscribe.

10-15 August-2020, 25 young leaders from 27 different nationalities gathered in to discuss some pressing issues of our contemporary moment which concern us all but are not being highlighted to the extent of the gravity of the matter. These young participants from diverse cultural backgrounds were given the opportunity to speak and to be heard. The author of this blog post was invited to attend this event as a Journalist and what follows is my account of the conference. Although I was not a direct participant but this 5 days summer school allowed me the opportunity to meet youth representatives from all over the world and get to know challenges unique to their cultures and those which were common to us in our shared humanity and globality as well as their innovative solutions to these challenges.

Participant in a workshop on Systems-thinking, Sustainability Principles and Social Innovation as a necessary future,.

The Youth Time’s International Youth Summer School invited the young but renowned experts of the field to brief the participants about the topic in discussion and to educate them about the skills they would require in the future to make them able to work along with the Artificial Intelligence which is purported to take over the job market in the decades to come. Among the experts and speakers were Dutch IT expert and IBM consultant Theodoor van der Klaauw, the engineer Karen Pesse, who is currently working as a project manager for IBM on digital solutions for Diabetic patients, the Salvadoran Nelson Javier Mejia, who founded and heads a start-up specializing in innovations in Frankfurt, and the Romanian communications expert David Timis, who works for Google and the European Commission, among others.

Bogdan Vaida during the master class "Improve your Cognitive thinking: Strategy Games & Puzzle Solving."

After four days of intensive masterclasses and workshops, the summer school was rounded off on Golden Circle tour; It is a 300 KMs driving loop from Reykjavik into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. The golden circle mainly covers three sites, Thevingvellir National Park which is declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO are located and Eurasia are located, and then we routed towards ‘The Geysers’. Eruptions are the most popular part of the geyser, and the participants were lucky enough to experience the eruption and that it was an experience unlike any other. Finally, the participants were able to marvel at the 32 meter high and wonderfully situated Gullfoss waterfall.

The Geysirs.

The last stop of the day was the Gullfoss waterfall of the Hvita River. The waterfall is a popular destination for tourists and is located off the main road, so you have to backtrack a bit to continue the normal Golden Circle route back to Reykjavik. The Gullfoss waterfall is one of the top-rated tourist attractions for obvious reasons but a big part of it could be the specially allocated space for tourists to take pictures with the mesmerizing view that everyone who hasn’t visited Iceland will definitely be jealous of.

The group photo of the participants at Gullfoss Waterfall.


Let me take you back to the main theme of the event and in easy and accessible language share some intellectual takeaways from the event with you, as together we can learn and combat the many issues besetting our shared global community.

Future Skills for Workplace Sustainability: Preparing for Transition

Innovation- the word to define modernity, is something humankind has been invested in for ages, especially post Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution in Europe and modern epoch. Technology has gained massive advancement over the course of the last two decades. All conventional mechanisms and industries have been transformed by technology. The world as we know it is rapidly changing. this advancement will see a boost in the next decade. Life has become easier and more convenient due to the endless benefits offered by technology. Distances have been reduced and digital media has turned the world into a global village. Means of transportation have become more efficient and comfortable than ever. Industries are delivering more efficient products and services. Humans now require less effort to carry out their daily routine tasks.

With Benefits, comes the menace

But these standout features of technology are not the only factors to be accounted for. The human workforce is gradually shifting towards machine workforce. Cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are being utilized to replicate human workforce with better efficiency. This is somehow an alarming situation for the youth. Machines offer more precise and optimal results compared to humans. Modern and state-of-the-art skills must be learned by the youth to prevent the complete replacement of humans by technology.

All the leading industries around the world prefer the use of technology over human workforce. The fields of medicine and surgery, manufacturing and production, transportation, defence have already adopted modern technological mechanisms for better results. We are just a decade away from witnessing the drastic shift of workforce towards technology. You cannot expect to cope with this massive change without acquiring competitive skills and modern knowledge.

Lucie Mairychová during the workshop "Social inclusion of youth: challenges and opportunities."

The skills that this moment needs?

The ever-growing advancement in technology cannot be ceased by any means. However, such skills can be learnt that can enable humans to get along with the futuristic technology. Adapting to this transition by developing creative skills will bring the best outcomes. According to the speakers at the summer school, the following are some skill sets that’s must be inculcated in the youth to prepare them for a technology-based world:

A Literacy in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is the future of technology, without any doubt. Before optimizing creative skills, we must learn the ins and outs of artificial intelligence. How AI powered machines work? How human workforce is imitated? What are the limitations of AI? All such factors must be brought into the knowledge of youth. The knowledge must be shifted towards a more practical pattern.

Internet of Things (IoT)

From daily life to business procedures, the Internet of Things is gaining ground in diverse aspects of life. Every conventional method is becoming automated. The automatic communication mechanism offered by IoT is way more efficient than the conventional one.

Students must be taught basic and advanced level skills regarding the Internet of Things. This skill set can enable them in understanding how the effectiveness of IoT can be leveraged to achieve desired results.

Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)

You might have heard about the revolutionized augmented experience brought by the technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality AR. These technologies provide a controlled and realistic visual experience.

Within a few years, this experience won’t be merely confined to travel tours. Leading industries would leverage this technology to improve their customer experience. Our youth must be made familiar with AR and VR to make them well-equipped with a futuristic skill set.

Critical Thinking

Apart from technological skills, there are certain psychological traits that must be improved. Critical thinking is one of them. This ability enables individuals to come up with feasible solutions for complex problems.

No matter what job you are performing, if you possess the ability to analyse the issue and make a sound judgment, then surely you have the ability to get along with the current progress in technology.

Complex Problem Solving

AI machines will be utilized in the coming years to handle every complex job. Such advancement cannot be tackled with inefficient problem-solving skills. Students should be taught how to assess the problem and effective ways to tackle these complex problems to achieve optimal solutions. Every industry has different mechanisms and procedures. Keeping up with the efficiency of technology would require a better understanding of complex problems and their solutions.

Innovative Approach:

The progress of technology is an ongoing process. With each passing year, the more and more tech-based workforce will be introduced. We must develop an innovative mindset to keep up with future technologies. The ability to bring better performance and the skill to deliver more efficient results is what innovation is all about. Youth must be demonstrated how any current entity can be made more productive through innovation.

The Bottom Line

Technology will surely overtake the human workforce in the coming years. We must prepare ourselves and the upcoming youth for this transition by working on building a solid skillset. Developing modern technological skills and a creative approach to problem-solving an ensure better workplace sustainability for our youth. This transition should be embraced with a more productive approach. Summarily we can say that advancement in technology is not a threat to human jobs but an aid to accomplishing the task efficiently. The humans have to groom their skills to be competent enough to work along with the machines.

Photo Courtesy: Youth Time International Movement.