Creating an Environment Where All Youth Have Access to Decent Work

Matthew Breman, Global Director, YEO 2030 Initiative
Black youth doing electrical work.

“In the future, there won’t be standardized work…you need to be creative enough to embrace the disruption,” said YouthLead ambassador, Christine Ogola, during a webinar for young changemakers on the Future of Work for Young People last July.

We have been hearing a good deal lately from experts all over the world about what the post-COVID future will look like. The truth is that we all are giving educated guesses. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world, and we are all trying to find footholds as the next wave hits.

And those waves are hitting young people hard. In 2020, 8.7 percent of the world’s young people lost their jobs compared to 3.7 percent of adults, according to the UN. Those numbers do not include the large number of young people working in the informal economy, who lacked the basic protections a job in the formal sector frequently affords.

An effect of the pandemic on the labor market was the increase in automated technologies that allowed people to social distance. More automation means fewer traditional jobs. Before the pandemic, a McKinsey & Company study found that by 2030 2.66 billion people will need to switch occupations because of automation. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) is displacing many jobs in retail and hospitality that are usually filled by young people. The pandemic has, no doubt, accelerated this process.

Despite all of this, young people remain resilient, optimistic, and eager to adapt. Young leaders, like Christine, are already preparing their peers for a different future. The question is: Are we preparing our education and training systems, programs, and companies for the same future?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed as a blueprint for global partnership to address poverty and other global crises through a set of common goals to keep the world moving in the same direction. The pandemic has set us back on many of those goals, but it also has given us the opportunity to reassess whether we are heading in the right direction, particularly when it comes to youth and decent work.

As a thought leader in the youth economic opportunity (YEO) space for the past 15 years, Making Cents is known for our expertise in designing innovative strategies to engage youth and our ability to convene key stakeholders in dynamic learning spaces, like the Global YEO Summit. We have decided to leverage this expertise to launch the YEO 2030 Initiative, which brings young leaders and adults together to accelerate progress toward SDG 8. We will elevate youth leadership; listen to new voices; develop an ecosystem map of key YEO stakeholders and activities; identify success metrics; and share and learn from achievements and failures, with a spotlight on young people, the planet, and prosperity.

Our initial activities are designed to share learning and co-create the YEO 2030 strategy. We begin with YEO Youth Dialogues to understand young people’s hopes and aspirations for their work futures. Concurrently, our partners will lead YEO Solution Webinars that deepen learning in key areas such as green jobs, equity and inclusion, financing innovation, and workforce system transformation. We will organize our first Regional YEO Convening afterwards to make connections, collectively reflect on what we have heard, and discuss solutions to inform the YEO 2030 strategy. Finally, the Global YEO Summit will be convened to share the Initiatives’ progress to date; build and strengthen partnerships, share, and learn about additional sector innovations and findings; and chart a path forward for YEO 2030.

The YEO 2030 Initiative is a tangible opportunity to put youth at the forefront of informing, designing, and leading a strategy that will have real impact on the post-COVID world of work. Youth are already demonstrating their ability to lead. YEO 2030 will create an environment where they, along with initiative partners, will use SDG 8 to influence action that defines the future of work, rather than just adapting to it.

We hope you will join us in this Initiative. Read on to learn more YEO 2030.