What can business do to help young people acquire the right skills to transition into good jobs?

Unemployment is a global problem, and young people are particularly badly affected.  Youth unemployment rates are twice as high as for older workers.  Around one third of global youth – over 620 million young people - are not in employment, education or training.  This represents an enormous lost opportunity and has serious long-term impacts not only for those young people but also for their societies and economies.  In countries where the population is getting younger there is an even more urgent need to create many more jobs for the growing number of young people needing decent work. It therefore comes as no surprise that accelerating youth employment is identified as a priority within the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Youth unemployment is a complex problem with many underlying causes.  Among them is the widely recognised fact that many young people lack the right skills to help them transition out of education and into a good first job, or onto vocational training courses or further education. Companies wanting to grow into new markets and wishing to recruit locally report that they often struggle to find suitable candidates with the right skills. This skills gap comprises not only hard skills, ranging from basic from numeracy and literacy to specific technical skills; but also so-called soft skills and attributes. For the private sector, a skilled workforce is critical to productivity, innovation and growth.  Estimates suggest that globally up to 38% of employers cannot fill their vacancies due to a lack of the necessary skills.

 

This online discussion will focus on the following questions:

 

  1. What are the 21st century skills young people need to make a successful transition into good jobs? Are young people currently getting these skills? How does the situation differ between developed and developing countries, between cities and rural areas, between young men and young women?
  2. How can companies help young people to get ready for the world of work and to find good jobs? Who should they work with? Can you share examples of successful business-led programmes or innovative cross-sectoral / multi-stakeholder partnerships that help more young people acquire the right skills to find and keep decent work?
  3. How can involving young people in the design and delivery of skills programmes lead to better development solutions?

 

This discussion is part of a Challenge on Youth Employability with the UK’s Department for International Development, Pearson, Anglo American, Citi Foundation, Barclays and BRAC.  The Challenge focuses on what business can do to help more young people find and keep decent work by helping them develop the necessary skills to transition successfully into good jobs. Drawing on the experience of Challenge Supporters and the Business Fights Poverty community, we are developing a guide for business and those wanting to work with business that will gather together key ingredients for a successful private sector approach to youth skills development.    This online discussion will inform the development of the guide. 

 

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What can business do to help young people acquire the rights skills to transition into good jobs

 Youth employment benefits business in a manner that needs to capture the attention of businesses.  Young people are part of what I call business growth. The young talents have the ambition, creativity and the endurance to work long hours as well as days to make production greater and enjoyable for consumers.

So, for businesses to help young people acquire the right skills to transition into good jobs or for me, I will say future needed jobs, there are series of measures that need to be in place.

-          Businesses must understand that young people  are not a burden

-          That each support provided pays off in the profits they make out of the young talent creativity

-          Business must endeavour to invest in university programs that built young talents

-          Businesses must develop career development programs that train ambitious, talented and willing young men and women to excel

-          Businesses must work with volunteers programs to identify talents

-          Businesses must work with career development institutions to channel the way for open business initiatives that do not teach young people only money but ethics and human rights

-          Human Resource managers must sit annually with young employees for frank discussions. This will allow them know what the young employee sees ahead. ( in many instances, especially in poor nations, young people take certain jobs based on the principle of survival, to keep this young talent focus, you need to discuss with them and help them reshape what they want)

It has been reported that, about 43% of the global youth labor force is still either unemployed or working yet living in poverty ILO 2015. The ongoing research shows that after a number of years of improvement, youth unemployment is set to rise in 2016 and young people are extremely affected. In  developed economies youth unemployment may be a result of many young people still in education process so their biggest challenge may be the quality of available jobs rather than finding a job. Given the level and quality and of education in these countries, youth are more likely to find the available jobs in the labor market below their expectations. In the developing economies this is not the case, trends shows that 31% of youth in low-income countries have no educational qualifications at all compared to 6% in lower middle-income countries and 2% in upper middle-income countries. In these nations, youth are still facing problems of underemployment, informal employment and working poverty.

The 2030 global Agenda Goal 8 emphasizes on youth employment and appeals for collective efforts in securing quality jobs for all. Therefore, it is not the role of governments alone to ensure decent work for youth but also the responsibility of the business sector which is actually the main actor in the demand side of the labor market. In developed economies where there is low unemployment rates, business companies may continue to develop new products and expand their business in order to create new job positions along with supporting on job skills training for new graduates. In high unemployment settings where basic skills is also a problem; business companies should support the skills development and capacity building programs (such as vocational training) as part of their social responsibility. They can also design and support apprenticeship programs where youth can learn before being fully employed.

It is clearly understood that with the current rapid changes in technology in patterns of work and employment relationship, as well as new forms of businesses, there is a need of constant adjustment to new labor market conditions in order to address skills mismatches. Instead of complaining on the technical and soft skills gap of young workers, Business Businesses should use part of their profit to continuously build and increase skills and capacity of their employees so as to meet the required competence. In addition,  companies could invest in training few devoted youth from the labor market who will then mentor other youth joining the companies and increase efficiency. Increased innovations/new investment by the business sector is also highly needed to relieve the ongoing job crisis for the present generation as well as to ensure more decent jobs in the future.

Thanks for your contribution Adeline and for articulating some of the pertinent issues impacting on the youth employability agenda. I hope you will join us for the live part of the discussion later today to find out what our excellent panel thinks about the best ways to overcome some of these barriers.  
In the meantime, do you know of any examples of successful programmes involving the private sector that have helped shift the needle on the youth skills gap? We are keen to identify some great examples of best practice during our discussion. 

Adeline Ajuaye said:

It has been reported that, about 43% of the global youth labor force is still either unemployed or working yet living in poverty ILO 2015. The ongoing research shows that after a number of years of improvement, youth unemployment is set to rise in 2016 and young people are extremely affected. In  developed economies youth unemployment may be a result of many young people still in education process so their biggest challenge may be the quality of available jobs rather than finding a job. Given the level and quality and of education in these countries, youth are more likely to find the available jobs in the labor market below their expectations. In the developing economies this is not the case, trends shows that 31% of youth in low-income countries have no educational qualifications at all compared to 6% in lower middle-income countries and 2% in upper middle-income countries. In these nations, youth are still facing problems of underemployment, informal employment and working poverty.

The 2030 global Agenda Goal 8 emphasizes on youth employment and appeals for collective efforts in securing quality jobs for all. Therefore, it is not the role of governments alone to ensure decent work for youth but also the responsibility of the business sector which is actually the main actor in the demand side of the labor market. In developed economies where there is low unemployment rates, business companies may continue to develop new products and expand their business in order to create new job positions along with supporting on job skills training for new graduates. In high unemployment settings where basic skills is also a problem; business companies should support the skills development and capacity building programs (such as vocational training) as part of their social responsibility. They can also design and support apprenticeship programs where youth can learn before being fully employed.

It is clearly understood that with the current rapid changes in technology in patterns of work and employment relationship, as well as new forms of businesses, there is a need of constant adjustment to new labor market conditions in order to address skills mismatches. Instead of complaining on the technical and soft skills gap of young workers, Business Businesses should use part of their profit to continuously build and increase skills and capacity of their employees so as to meet the required competence. In addition,  companies could invest in training few devoted youth from the labor market who will then mentor other youth joining the companies and increase efficiency. Increased innovations/new investment by the business sector is also highly needed to relieve the ongoing job crisis for the present generation as well as to ensure more decent jobs in the future.

Yes, I have been witnessing companies like PWC, Microfinance institutions and commercial banks conducting pre-recruitment training programs in  universities and college particularly in East Africa where I came from since when I was in my undergraduate  studies. Some of the colleagues recruited into these programs are now at the managerial positions (not necessarily in the same company where they were initially employed) mentoring other youths. Many youth have been joining these companies without or with little skills, get trained while working and after sometimes they are also allowed to move to other companies if they wish so. But this has been done for those who have at least a diploma or university degree.The big challenge remain is involving the youth who has no formal education, but still industries can recruit and train them to do the production and marketing works that do not require sophisticated skills.
 
Hester le Roux said:

Thanks for your contribution Adeline and for articulating some of the pertinent issues impacting on the youth employability agenda. I hope you will join us for the live part of the discussion later today to find out what our excellent panel thinks about the best ways to overcome some of these barriers.  
In the meantime, do you know of any examples of successful programmes involving the private sector that have helped shift the needle on the youth skills gap? We are keen to identify some great examples of best practice during our discussion. 

Adeline Ajuaye said:

It has been reported that, about 43% of the global youth labor force is still either unemployed or working yet living in poverty ILO 2015. The ongoing research shows that after a number of years of improvement, youth unemployment is set to rise in 2016 and young people are extremely affected. In  developed economies youth unemployment may be a result of many young people still in education process so their biggest challenge may be the quality of available jobs rather than finding a job. Given the level and quality and of education in these countries, youth are more likely to find the available jobs in the labor market below their expectations. In the developing economies this is not the case, trends shows that 31% of youth in low-income countries have no educational qualifications at all compared to 6% in lower middle-income countries and 2% in upper middle-income countries. In these nations, youth are still facing problems of underemployment, informal employment and working poverty.

The 2030 global Agenda Goal 8 emphasizes on youth employment and appeals for collective efforts in securing quality jobs for all. Therefore, it is not the role of governments alone to ensure decent work for youth but also the responsibility of the business sector which is actually the main actor in the demand side of the labor market. In developed economies where there is low unemployment rates, business companies may continue to develop new products and expand their business in order to create new job positions along with supporting on job skills training for new graduates. In high unemployment settings where basic skills is also a problem; business companies should support the skills development and capacity building programs (such as vocational training) as part of their social responsibility. They can also design and support apprenticeship programs where youth can learn before being fully employed.

It is clearly understood that with the current rapid changes in technology in patterns of work and employment relationship, as well as new forms of businesses, there is a need of constant adjustment to new labor market conditions in order to address skills mismatches. Instead of complaining on the technical and soft skills gap of young workers, Business Businesses should use part of their profit to continuously build and increase skills and capacity of their employees so as to meet the required competence. In addition,  companies could invest in training few devoted youth from the labor market who will then mentor other youth joining the companies and increase efficiency. Increased innovations/new investment by the business sector is also highly needed to relieve the ongoing job crisis for the present generation as well as to ensure more decent jobs in the future.

There are many and complex causes of this problem. But for Africa one that stands out is the mismatch between what skills and altitudes training institutions produce and what employers require. Thus we see a clear mismatch with many employers being forced to invest their own resources to train workers because the education system is not doing a good enough job. The root cause for this (again there are many) is the '3 E' silo system whereby Educators, Employers and Entrepreneurs largely function as three separate units that never meet – yet each is supposed to be dependent on the others product or service. We should start by doing all we can to break up this abnormal silo system. Let us start by basically demanding a role for employers in the classroom and for educators in the Industry. Once we get these two working together, solutions to the many other problems that form part of these complex issues will be found. Of course the question begs itself: How can this be done? Well, there are now tested models (though most of them small scale) that have demonstrated that this can be done, with fairly low cost and with very good learning/employment outcomes. Let us take a look at these and see which can be scaled up and encourage this to happen. Finally many governments in Africa are investing in demand driven approaches to skills training (CBET is one example) which require the same level of ideal Educators/Employers/Entrepreneurs partnership. Employers, through their industry groupings and other forums, should encourage these initiatives (and cross learning between people and countries) whenever they can. 

There is a direct relationship between increased employment and unemployment among young people and the availability of existing vacancies. In fact it is a natural and balanced relationship when there is an increase in the number of companies. The emergence of young hands is greater than the emergence of companies. In this case we see the need for the emergence of new sustainable companies.

Ornildo Cardozo e Gisele

Good morning / good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the live segment of this online discussion on how business can best support young people’s transition into work.

 

I’d like to start by asking our Panellists to introduce themselves.

Hello. My name is Brandie Conforti and I am the Global Head of Development at JA (Junior Achievement) Worldwide. JA empowers young people to own their economic success. We do this by providing cutting-edge, experiential education in workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Working with nearly 500,000 volunteers each year, we put over 10 million youth – in over 100 countries – on a path to financial well-being.

My name is Dorothy Stuehmke and I am a Program Officer with the Citi Foundation where I manage our international grantmaking portfolio. The Citi Foundation is focused on the economic empowerment of low income communities around the world in markets where Citibank has a presence. I am pleased to be joining today’s discussion to talk about the importance of investing in youth and their economic well-being, and the need to equip youth with the tools necessary to improve their employability and job readiness positioning in the 21st century economy.

I am Richard Sandall, Private Sector Development Adviser in DFID Uganda.  I’ve been with DFID 9 years, and in Uganda 3 years.  As PSD Adviser I am responsible for designing and managing projects that are linked to business growth.  In Uganda I oversee an agribusiness project, and recently finished a £10.5 million project in the poorer Northern region of Uganda that saw 30,000 people trained in business and vocational skills.

Hi everyone! I am Augustine Malija, a young researcher of the East African Youth Think Tank program. We inform the MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Strategy through a qualitative research on, “Insights into Youth Economic Opportunities in East Africa. We do all this under the expertise of Restless Development, Uganda.

Hi I'm Debbie Phillips, Head of Citizenship for UK and Europe at Barclays. I have been with the team for 15 years and have had the privilege of supporting a wide range of employability programmes during that time.

Between 2012 and 2015 we at Barclays supported over 5.7 million disadvantaged young people with skills.

We continue to recognise that across our geographies young people in particular are disproportionately unemployed and that by creating access to employment we can, not only help people gain employment but also help businesses get the skilled talent they need to grow.

At Barclays, we have an ambition to deliver Shared Growth: products and services that create societal and commercial value, not one or the other. This means that we’re investing not only in employability skills programmes and future of work research but we’re also working to create access to job opportunities in high growth companies and with scale up entrepreneurs.

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