How can we equip young people with the skills, information and opportunities to succeed in the world of work?
The world in 2012 faces a stark reality; out of a global labour force of 3.3 billion, 200 million are unemployed. The situation is especially desperate for young people – 75 million are unemployed globally and, within the UK, over a million 16 to 24 year olds are currently looking for work. These dim prospects for youth sow the seeds for disengagement and apathy, continued social unrest and a challenging global economy.
Clearly, there are gaps: gaps between demand and supply; gaps in skills; gaps between geographies and gaps between opportunities and outcomes that all need addressing urgently. Nonetheless, despite these challenges, there are still reasons to be optimistic.
Understanding the Context
Different generations may experience similar and also varying hurdles when entering the workforce. Some may be lacking the ‘soft skills’ needed for work, such as social and creative abilities; others may be facing the prospect of short-term employment without prospects for long-term career growth.
Some initial issues contributing to youth unemployment include:
- The need for ‘soft’ as well as functional skills - including social, communication and creative skills
- A geographic mismatch between where jobs are created and where skills are developed
- Changes in industrial structure where a decline in manufacturing has meant that entry-level employment may be shifting to other industries, such as service and hospitality
- The need for career growth opportunities beyond entry-level employment
At the same time, educational and career pathways are more varied than ever before. Advancements in digital technologies have also created entirely new industries with career paths previous generations could never have imagined. And social networks give today’s young people unprecedented access to new connections and opportunities.
This OpenIDEO challenge aims to bring together a diverse global community – including business leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, policy makers, journalists and young people themselves – to help identify a range of innovative, scalable solutions to the challenge of youth unemployment.
Outcomes and Impact
As a result of this challenge, Barclays and The Work Foundation will publish a report documenting the opportunities, concepts and themes which have emerged from the challenge. The report will be shared globally in the hope that it will serve as an ongoing resource to influence large-scale initiatives as well as grassroots projects within communities that innovatively help equip young people with the skills, information and opportunity to succeed in the world of work.
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