A revolution is underway in how we live and work. With artificial intelligence, smart factories and farms, and the sharing economy going mainstream, disruption is the order of the day. Caught in the midst of this kaleidoscope of change are today’s 1.2 billion young people. How do we ensure the largest youth generation the world has ever known has what it takes to navigate our rapidly transforming world?
In 2015, with a new, three-year strategic plan in place, IYF committed to redoubling our efforts to remove the barriers that prevent too many young people from reaching their full potential as employees, entrepreneurs, leaders, and change makers, and to ensure that youth are at the top of the global agenda.
Read on to explore three of our key priorities in depth.
Amidst unprecedented technological change and marketplace shifts, today’s young people struggle to find and keep jobs. Forget keeping pace; they need to be prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist with skills that will endure. What are these future-proof skills?
Experts agree that social-emotional learning, or the development of life skills, will serve a person through early adulthood and beyond. These non-cognitive abilities—knowing how to manage emotions, communicate effectively, make responsible decisions, and maintain positive relationships—are critical to being a good student, worker, and citizen.
With life skills at the core of IYF’s pursuit of positive youth development, we’ve identified five critical truths about these competencies:
1Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught? The New York Times
4How to Know Which Skills to Develop at Each Stage of Your Career, FastCompany.com
5How Children’s Social Competence Impacts Their Well-Being in Adulthood, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
6A Rosetta Stone for Non-Cognitive Skills, Professional Examination Services and Asia Society
“I never say goodbye [to my trainees], because who says goodbye to the future. Rather, my message is: ‘I’ll see you on the road to success. Know I’ll always be there for you.’”—Arsen Kambalov 22-year-old Passport to Success trainer for Chevron-supported Zangar initiative in Kazakhstan
“To begin with, our aim was to support a project that helped those in need. We later realized that many of the young people had a great deal to offer our company. The project benefits young people, society, and companies such as ours.”— Pilar Vilca Selection Analyst at Cantol SAC, a metallurgical company in Peru that has hired graduates from the Caterpillar Foundation-supported EquipYouth initiative
To be effective, youth programs and approaches need to reach young people in the places and spaces where they spend most of their time: schools (including universities and technical training institutes), community centers, sports fields, and online. The question is how do you reach youth in these settings at scale?
To achieve sustainable, long-term change, IYF is taking its knowledge and experience gained over 26 years and applying best practice approaches within large-scale systems. While every experience brings unique challenges and opportunities, there are key elements that, when combined, can exponentially increase the likelihood of success:
“With advice from IYF specialists, we made changes in our management systems and developed a plan for employer outreach. The workshops provided us with tools for planning our youth services and assessing our trainers. We hope to use the tools we learned in all our work with youth.”—Alis Muñoz Hernández Director ICENF, a community-based organization in Colombia that benefited from the Quality Standards Assessment tool
“Thanks to Z:W for equipping us with great marketing skills. I am now very confident with my product, and my vision has changed from being local to national and international.”— Rudo Muzvruzvu Home decor entrepreneur and participant in Zimbabwe:Works an initiative of IYF, USAID, DFID, and the Embassy of Sweden
Long relegated to the periphery of development discussions, youth needs—and youth-led solutions—are taking center stage. Recognition is growing that youth programs and policies are far more likely to succeed when young people are engaged from the start.
How do we leverage the extraordinary contributions of young people, while encouraging more youth to be part of the solution? Change begins with shifting the narrative of how young people are perceived. The first step is to recognize the many roles they play in creating positive change in their communities and economies and within larger institutions:
“The unrelenting resilience that has historically characterized African populations is slowly, but surely, turning into sustainable problem-solving by youth committed to locally-led development.”— Peggy Mativo Founder of PACE, which trains Kenyan high school graduates as volunteer teaching assistants; 2014 Laureate Global Fellow and IYF board member
“We are delighted to be a key partner in IYF’s YouthActionNet initiative with its 23 youth leadership institutes around the world. We couldn’t be more proud of the 15 Laureate Universities that have joined this initiative and the outstanding young social entrepreneurs selected annually as Laureate Global Fellows. They are an inspiration to us all.”— Douglas L. Becker Founder, Chairman, & CEO, Laureate International Universities
Ours is a unique moment in history. More young people are coming of age than ever before at a time of mounting global challenges and unprecedented change. Equipping youth with the enduring skills needed to navigate today’s changes lies at the heart of IYF’s mission.
Over 26 years, our work has impacted the lives of nearly 20 million young people in 100-plus countries. Our efforts to scale effective initiatives and approaches are made possible through an expansive network of nearly 500 local, national, and global partners. The premium we place on partnership is reflected in IYF’s role as a founding member of Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE)—a global coalition that has set ambitious goals for achieving dramatic change in youth employment over the next 15 years.
Today’s global challenges demand greater investment in youth—and greater recognition of their role as innovators and problem solvers. Achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is no exception. To eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, we must ensure—today—that marginalized youth receive the support they need to secure decent livelihoods and to prosper in life. Meeting the SDGs also demands that we leverage the creativity, idealism, and passion of youth like never before.
IYF’s mission and work lie at the nexus of these two global imperatives—preparing youth for productive work and supporting their role as leaders. In 2015, we put forth a bold new strategic plan to maximize our impact in these areas. We also introduced exciting new initiatives:
Beyond these efforts to scale effective programs, we seek to influence how youth work is carried out. Our partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a premier think tank, offers a platform for high-level dialogue around youth issues—and solutions. CSIS rightly understands that youth needs and youth voices must be part of much larger conversations when it comes the environment, economic growth, and global security.
With a heightened focus on youth issues globally, this may well be remembered as the time when young people garnered the attention and resources they so deserve. And that’s good news for all of us.
“IYF is the leading global voice calling for more attention and resources to address the challenges of youth unemployment, which is one of the most important issues of our time. Hilton is proud to partner with IYF on this vital initiative and to support the next generation of leaders and workers who will shape the future of our world.”—Christopher J. Nassetta President & CEO, Hilton Worldwide