Business and technology can transform youth unemployment from risk into opportunity
The prospect of losing a generation to worldwide youth unemployment presents a huge challenge demanding creative responses. Among thousands of business leaders surveyed by the Global Opportunities Network for its Global Opportunity Report 2016, the greatest number of respondents viewed youth unemployment as the most pressing of the top five global risks. The scale of the problem is deeply confronting: 12.9% of youth globally (or 75 million people) are without work, leading to slower economic growth, jobless growth, lower tax receipts, and increased risk of social instability. Yet three opportunities are presented by this risk: the chance to enable “futurepreneurs”; to engage digital labour markets; and to match up supply and demand in labour markets.
Opportunity 1: Futurepreneurs
Entrepreneurs lead job-creation globally, and rising youth unemployment opens the way for young entrepreneurs to create jobs for themselves and others.
Innovative funding mechanisms allow young creators to overcome traditional barriers to secure funding, while enabling investors dissatisfied with their current portfolio to access fresh ideas. Funding may be community-based, with local competitions rewarding outstanding new ideas, and can provide financial, social and environmental returns for young entrepreneurs.
Overseas examples include organisations in Africa teaching youth to build critical infrastructure sustainably; and in Europe teaching entrepreneurship skills online to unemployed youth.
“Many of our students currently studying at school are expected to live beyond 100 years,” says Danielle Storey, CEO of the Eastern Innovation Business Centre (EIBC). “That’s a lot of pivoting in their careers. Leading educators are predicting too, that more than half of them are expected to run their own venture sooner rather than later.”
The EIBC, located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, houses “a networked community of collaborative, inspired, innovative entrepreneurs preparing their ideas for the market,” and, says Storey, “promotes non-siloed collaboration between youth founders and all levels of government, big business, institutions and associations.”
This is the bedrock of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem for our young futurepreneurs, says Storey, as are “education/skills development, mentoring, funding, support, markets, networks/community, culture, and access to and support from government in on and offline facilities that are easily and affordably accessible.”
Opportunity 2: Digital labour market
Digital platforms can distribute employment opportunities more evenly around the world, creating online work across geographical and sectorial boundaries. It is estimated that digital talent platforms can increase employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions today by 2025.
“Impact sourcing” involves companies hiring and training unemployed youth with limited opportunities in low-income areas to become high-skilled remote employees. Youths are then connected with employers looking for their skills, so young people are upskilled while businesses develop “global talent pipelines”.
“IT farm” jobs allow youth to perform small digital tasks for money, supplementing their income from informal employment or agriculture whilst upskilling them and providing access to new job opportunities. This can reduce the rural-urban divide by adding IT training to the labour skills of rural youth, diversify the economy of agricultural communities, and enable rural youth to work near their families rather than migrating to cities or abroad.
Youth also build personal brands through digital social platforms, with a large number of social media followers or “likes” able to be leveraged for monetary rewards or a stronger position when negotiating contracts with companies.
Business and youth surveyed consider this opportunity the best for addressing the risk of the wasted generation.
Opportunity 3: Closing the skills gap
Mismatched supply and demand of labour market skills can be addressed by repairing the broken school-to-work pipeline.
A close relationship between business, educators and youth can help education adapt to the rapidly changing demands of the labour market, because businesses are uniquely situated to provide youth with employable skills by helping develop e-learning programs, vocational training, on-the-job competence building, skills development in formal institutions, and five-year skills forecasts.
Educational institutions should provide an avenue for youth to access labour markets by upskilling, reskilling, adjusting competencies through apprenticeships, e-learning, and vocational training.
The Victorian Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Fund, launched on 19 January 2017, provides grant funding for industry and training provider partnerships to develop and deliver strategies to improve training outcomes and the relevance of training to industry.
By 2020, the global economy will run short of 180 million workers across all skill levels. Turning this daunting future of worldwide youth unemployment into an opportunity demands creative solutions to secure the next generation’s future, and the prosperity of societies around the globe.
A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
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IMAGE: Used under licence from shutterstock.com
Written by Cameron Doig.
[category courtheath's blog]
[youth unemployment, UN Global Compact, UN Global Opportunity Report]