The Future is Bright, So Long as Youth Have The Skills: Minding the gap between Business, Youth and the Workforce of tomorrow

Credit: Theirworld

I would be stating the obvious saying there’s a huge gap between the business world and the youth of today. However, what is alarming is the rate at which this gap is accelerating.

By the year 2030 it will be larger than ever, when it’s estimated that up to two billion jobs[1] could be at risk of disappearing, as automation, robotics and technological advancements continue to soar.

The hardest hit by these changes and the impending job crisis is young people- the future workforce- especially those in already marginalized and disadvantaged communities.

With the current pace of change, rapid development of new technology, relentless innovation of goods and services in the global economy, the business community really has its work cut out if they hope to hire and retain good talent, capable of fulfilling the jobs of the future. And keep up with the growth of opportunities, competition and future industries, whilst ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Credit: UNICEF/UNI157767/Mawa

Organisations cannot protect jobs which will inevitably be made redundant by these advancements. But they certainly have the responsibility to ensure they nurture and drive adaptability, agility and up-skill the youth entering the workforce to be able to thrive in this rapidly changing world.

Surveys show that the ways in which business engage in workforce development — and the ambitions and aspirations of young people are incredibly mismatched.

So how can we solve this divergence, and better harness the potential of young people?

We can do this by bringing business leaders together to help foster youth innovation, entrepreneurial, and technology skills, so they can thrive in the workplace of the future.

That’s exactly the thinking behind a new initiative launching this week, the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative. This unique collaboration, created by the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) and the Intel Corporation (Intel), will bring young people, industry leaders, and experts together to develop solutions and inspire action to build the skills for the next generation of innovators, makers, entrepreneurs, and workers.

The initiative is bringing in and connecting individuals, companies, and institutions; the private and public sectors; matchmaking for global education and future skills. Only by working together to support the ‘next generation’ of thinking, partnership, and youth will we collectively overcome the obstacles facing today’s young people.

The Initiative will establish a Commission that includes Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, and Adeyemi Babington-Ashaye, Head of Global Shapers Community at the World Economic Forum, amongst others. This will be alongside a new network of leading youth organizations and youth council to support the initiative’s work and outcomes.

Only by young people informing and helping to shape the research agenda, providing feedback to the Commission, and supporting the recommendations will we begin to truly unlock their potential.

The major opportunity for the business community and its ability to think about the future is not simply surviving in the present. The business community must be willing and flexible to deviate from the status quo and commit to new, proven and disruptive approaches. Only our collective sense of responsibility and action can ensure the current, as well as the next generation of young people can be active participants in the changing workforce.

The global economy will depend on harnessing the “new basic skills,” such as digital literacy, creativity, and presentation skills. Since 2013, the demand for digital skills has shot up more than 200 percent. Critical thinking by over 150 percent. Creativity over 60 percent, and presentation skills by 25 percent. In the future, these figures are likely to increase as these skills become even more essential.

As the business world marches on towards 2030, spurred by the rapid momentum of technological innovation, this new Initiative will work together to ensure that young people — particularly those from marginalized communities, are not left behind. In doing so, the future of the workforce looks bright, diverse, and inclusive. Let’s stay focused on the positive and plan for a dynamic future — although innovation brings change and uncertainty, it also brings with it a sense of excitement, opportunity, and the challenge of exploring as-yet-unimagined industries.

Find out more about the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative, here.

[1] http://report.educationcommission.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Learning_Generation_Full_Report.pdf