This week, I have the great privilege of rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s top business, government and social sector leaders at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin. The diversity of participants and sessions demonstrates the great innovation and value of the Forum: bringing together all stakeholders to solve problems. Frequently, one comes away from these meetings drained, inspired and full of ideas but unsure of where real action will occur to make measurable impact.
One global challenge that can no longer simply be discussed and studied is the scourge of youth unemployment globally. Last week, the International Labour Organization delivered a sobering prediction: youth unemployment around the world will continue to rise over the next five years. With the immense energy, influence and resources that the Forum mobilizes, it is crucial to find ways to translate ideas and goals into tangible outcomes for the young people who need change the most.
While record numbers of youth worldwide graduate into the “age of youth unemployment”, business leaders say that one of the biggest challenges they face is finding young talent with the right skills to help their companies succeed. Affiliates in the Education For Employment (EFE) network witness this struggle every day, with employer partners like start-up Souq.com’s CEO Omar Sedoudi from Egypt explaining in a recent EFE Insight paper, “We really struggle to find young people with the skills we need…When they leave education, at whatever level, they don’t have the skills we are looking for and we don’t have the manpower to train them.”
Linking youth to jobs is a priority of governments the world over. But, private sector leaders and social entrepreneurs need to share this urgency, too. Fortunately, there are companies that are taking action. Ten Youth, a programme developed from collaboration between the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils on Emerging Multinationals and on Youth Unemployment encourages employers around the world to commit to train, hire and mentor 10 young people between the ages of 18 and 24. These public commitments and tangible actions are what make the Forum in Tianjin a powerful catalyst for change.
Over the next few days, I will seek out those leaders who are ready to commit resources for results so that 10 youth in jobs can become 10,000, and then 10 million. When we exit the Tianjin Convention Center, we enter a world with 80 million unemployed young people. Whether public or private, for profit or not, we need significant, shared commitments to change the “age of youth unemployment” into the “age of youth opportunity”.
Author: Jamie McAuliffe is President and Chief Executive Officer of Education For Employment, a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Youth Unemployment.
Pictured: Graduates crowd in front of an information board outside a job fair held in Lanzhou, Gansu province. REUTERS/China Daily China Daily Information Corp – CDIC