Conversations about the future of work are complicated because the issue of employment is not isolated; rather, it’s connected with other complex themes such as technology, civic engagement, and gender. And young people are at the center of this discussion, with millennials expected to become the majority of the work force in just a few years.
Much has been written about the future of work, and not surprisingly, more questions than answers have emerged. How will advances in technology and automation impact global employment prospects? Which existing jobs will vanish and which as-yet unimagined positions will arise? Which cutting-edge skills will become obsolete, and which ones will become indispensable? Will discrimination in practices of hiring, on-the-job treatment, and promotion persist or finally be relegated to the rubbish bin of history? What impact will our economic future have on other vital areas of life like health, security, and civic engagement?
Despite the uncertainty, young women and men are enthusiastic to create the lives they desire and deserve. Many are already well on the way to becoming the leaders, innovators, and change-makers the world so desperately needs. Young people have ideas to share about what they expect from laws and policies affecting their lives. They have creative insights to offer about how to address the world’s most significant issues—from improving educational access for low-income communities, to helping citizens with disabilities thrive, to combating all-too-pervasive gender discrimination and inequity.
No one knows exactly what the future of work will hold, but one thing is clear: young people can, must, and will be at the center of it all.
Youth know where they want to go and what they need to get there. Just as IYF is committed to ensuring our work incorporates and responds to young people's perspectives and lived experiences, it’s important for those in positions of power—the leaders of organizations, corporations, and nations—to listen to young people.
In 2017, in partnership with Hilton, IYF published the Global Youth Wellbeing Index, the culmination of a study incorporating objective data about the state of affairs in 30 countries with the perspectives and opinions of young people about the state of their own wellbeing.
Serving as a benchmark for seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders, the Index shows that—even when progress remains to be made at the country level—youth are overwhelmingly open-minded, optimistic, and enthusiastic about the future and their place in it.
of youth in Index countries agree that women should have all the same rights as men.
About 2 out of every 10 youth in Index countries are not working but want to be.
Two out of three youth surveyed feel their government does not care about their wants and needs.
of youth surveyed feel they will be able to get the kind of job they want.
The Index also functions as a call to action for those in positions of power. Youth envision—and expect—a future where they can secure the employment they want, and where women and men are accorded the same rights, opportunities, and respect. While the Index reveals heartening news, it's important not to squander the tremendous resource youth optimism and enthusiasm represent. Rather we need to encourage and enable youth to tap into that potential and recognize their own agency.
The time is now for leaders to listen to, heed, and engage with young people in meaningful ways. The future depends on it.
“Young people's vibrant optimism must be connected to the skills and opportunities they are given or can access to fulfill their hopes for the future.”— 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index
Make your voices heard: Listen to youth from Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States as they discuss common problems and how to be part of the solution. Read more
A youth-to-youth approach: Gain insight from six NGO workers in their 20s and early 30s in Turkey about how best to work with Syrian refugee youth. Read more
Challenging stereotypes: Meet two young leaders making important contributions to their communities not in spite of their youth, but because of it. Read more
In the knowledge economy, technical skills have expiration dates, and smart machines perform job functions that once required human hands and minds. Critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and the ability to adapt to new situations are just a few of the life skills that are timeless, transferable, and future-proof.
In 2004, IYF partnered with GE to develop Passport to Success® (PTS), our flagship life and work readiness skills program. Noted for its adaptability and focus on experiential learning, PTS has evolved to meet the changing demands of the market and the needs of employer and employee alike. In 2013, IYF partnered with Hilton to develop a PTS curriculum specifically for the hospitality industry. After a successful pilot year, the program was expanded to benefit thousands of Hilton employees worldwide through a delivery system consisting of multiple options—in-person, online, and blended learning.
Employers want a means of measuring life skills and work readiness in their current and prospective employees to identify reskilling opportunities, and employees want a way to document and demonstrate their life skills competencies to current and future employers.
To satisfy this demand, IYF and partner ACT are developing a life skills and work readiness assessment based on the most relevant advances in the science of non-cognitive testing. Currently, ACT is revising the assessment based on findings from the recent pilot phase. When it is made available in the near future, the work readiness assessment will be compatible not only with IYF’s Passport to Success, but also with a range of other life skills curricula on the market.
An impact evaluation of Passport to Success conducted in Chihuahua, Mexico, found that students who had participated in PTS demonstrated a increase in GPA.
The same study found that participation in Passport to Success is associated with a reduction in the average rate of dropouts between semesters.
Innovating for the future: Learn how IYF's partnership with Hilton represents an important leap forward in life skills programming. Read more
Why life skills matter: Read the story of an employer in Indonesia who has seen the way life skills training better prepares youth to enter the workforce. Read more
Gender and the workplace: Meet a 21-year-old Palestinian woman whose skills help her succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Read more
To succeed in an uncertain future, learning will become a lifelong endeavor. It will take place not only in traditional academic settings, but also in specialized technical and vocational training facilities, as part of on-the-job upskilling and reskilling programs, and in other contexts that meet the needs of employees and employers alike.
Of course, not all youth are afforded the same opportunities to succeed. Some young people lack access to quality education, market-relevant skills training, fundamental life skills, or mentorship and career guidance. Others face factors like cultural norms and prohibitive gender stereotypes that prevent them from following their interests and aptitudes.
In 2017, through a combination of new and continuing partnerships and initiatives, IYF worked to ensure that youth everywhere have the training, resources, support, and opportunities to transform the future they envision into reality.
“Every young person around the world should be equipped with digital skills, which also teach creativity and critical thinking, and all of which are imperative for success in our rapidly changing workplace.”— Mary Snapp Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
Since 1990, IYF has worked in over 100 countries, directly impacting 7.4 million young people and indirectly benefiting an additional 12 million. In 2017, with the help of global and local partners, those numbers continued to grow. As you’ll see below, the youth we serve come from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, but they all possess the potential to shape the future with passion and purpose.
“Technology plays an important role in the future of work, especially for girls and young women. Not only are young women using new technologies to leapfrog market and workplace barriers that in the past stood in their way, they are also shaping design and driving innovation in the field of technological development.”— Naadiya Moosajee2009 YouthActionNet Laureate Global Fellow and Co-Founder of WomEng
YOUNG SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS SUPPORTED
LIVES IMPACTED THROUGH IYF-SUPPORTED YOUNG SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS*
YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTES SUPPORTED
*2016 FIGURE USED AS MOST RECENT AVAILABLE
Hands-on learning: Meet an 18-year-old STEM student in Kazakhstan who did more than reach for the stars—she designed and built a laser intended to reach the moon. Read more
Invest in local partners: Hear from an implementing organization in Egypt about the real and lasting value of IYF's emphasis on capacity strengthening. Read more
Seeing results: Learn how an IYF initiative trained more than 29,000 young people in Zimbabwe in entrepreneurship, work readiness, and life skills. Read more
Featuring leaders and change-makers from around the world, IYF’s Board of Directors shares a commitment to helping young people everywhere succeed in work and life. In 2017, we gained two new board members whose extraordinary experiences, perspectives, and knowledge will contribute to advancing IYF’s mission and vision. We proudly welcome our new board members to the IYF family.
Umran Beba is Global Diversity, Engagement and Talent Officer at PepsiCo. She joined the company in 1994 in her native Turkey, and her prior roles include President of PepsiCo’s Asia-Pacific Region and SVP and CHRO for PepsiCo Asia, Middle East, and North Africa. Committed to diversity and inclusion, she has led female talent development efforts for PepsiCo in dozens of countries. Ms. Beba received her MBA and a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Turkey’s Bogaziçi University. She joined the IYF board in 2017.
“My goal as a board member is to help advance IYF's mission of enabling young people to achieve their full potential and shape a future that holds great opportunities for all.”— Umran Beba
A champion for children in Chicago and beyond, Sheldon Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of The Dovetail Project, an organization dedicated to equipping young African-American fathers with the skills, support, and opportunities they need to be “better fathers to their children and better men in their communities.” With over 330 graduates since 2009, The Dovetail Project is making a profound impact in the lives of families and communities while helping to change the negative narrative about young black men—especially fathers—in Chicago and elsewhere. A 2011 YouthActionNet® Laureate Global Fellow, Mr. Smith was recognized with a 2012 Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Award, named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2016, and included in Forbes magazine’s 2018 30 Under 30 for social entrepreneurs. Among these and many other achievements, he is most proud of being a devoted father to Jada, his daughter—and greatest accomplishment.
“I am excited to support the next generation of youth leaders as a board member ... by bringing new and innovative ideas to engage and educate youth.”— Sheldon Smith
We cannot know exactly what the labor landscape will look like in the future, but it’s clear that our world—where quantum jumps in technology happen seemingly overnight, and market demands change almost as quickly—is not slowing down. From the assembly line floor, to the office of the accountant, robots and smart machines are performing an increasingly complex range of tasks effectively and efficiently.
So, what should we tell our young women and men about how best to prepare for the future of work?
We should emphasize the importance of lifelong learning. Graduating from high school, or college, or from a vocational and technical training program, is certainly worthwhile, but learning can’t stop with the obtainment of any diploma, degree, or certificate. When they secure employment, young women and men must be ready and able to reimagine their roles and functions and to reskill when necessary. It’s up to all of us—public and private sectors, academic and training institutes, governments, businesses, youth-serving organizations, and young people themselves—to ensure that opportunities for learning as a frequent, continuous endeavor are available and meet the real needs of youth.
In addition, we should remember that while machines can perform some functions well, perhaps even better than humans in certain cases, they can’t do everything. The ability to encounter and respond to novel circumstances, to read the non-quantifiable nuances of a situation, to solve never before encountered problems with innovative thinking—this requires something that humans have, and machines don’t, and likely never will: creativity.
In fact, it is our creative capacity that fosters the kind of grit and growth mindset needed to persevere in the face of challenges, to reinvent ourselves when the need arises, and to thrive in times of uncertainty. So, from the traditional academic setting, to training facilities, to on-the-job skill-building programs, providing avenues for young people to develop their creativity, and a host of other life skills like stress management, effective communication, and the ability to work on a team, will be critical.
The future is always uncertain, but young people are always up to the challenge. We see evidence of their innate agency all around us as young people are standing up for what they believe, making their voices heard, and taking action to make real change in the world.
Perhaps the most important thing we should tell young people about the future is that we are listening, we hear them, and we are ready to equip and support them to create a future they want, and a future the world needs.