Continued coverage of the Concordia Summit, a parallel event to the 2015 UN General Assembly. Click here to see the preview Part I of this article!
“According to the International Labor Organization, approximately 73 million young people are unemployed. As a generation that is three times more likely to be out of work, today’s youth, from Europe to the America’s face growing instability and the scenario of what is typically referred to as “working poverty.” Building on efforts to productively engage and secure opportunities and livelihood for this generation of youth, international governments, the private sector, and civil society have attempted to re-shape traditional employment pathways for the next generation of workers. By gauging pre-employment skill sets, offering on-the-job training, emphasizing skills acquisition and development, as well as designing retention programs, employers can successfully align skills training with current opportunities …” (“2015 Concordia Summit Program” 10).
The CONCORDIA session titled “Employing the Future: The Imperative of Youth Employment in Creating Inclusive Economies,” was moderated by: Michael Santoli, Senior Columnist, Yahoo Finance. Panelists were, Jose Aznar – former President of Spain; Jabulane Mabuza – Chairman, Telkom, South Africa; Ahmed Alhendawi – United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and Dr. Jacob A. Frenkel – Chairman, JPMorgan Chase International. Michael Santoli asked the panelists, “What can employers do to end youth unemployment crisis and create models of inclusive economy?” Mr. Aznar elaborated that, “The unemployment rate has reached double and triple digits in most parts of the world including Italy, Greece and Korea.” He underscored the critical role of the private sector in creating jobs, added that “The role of the government is to create the condition that’d enable the private sector to provide employment opportunities for the youth.”
Telcom Chairman Jabulane Mabuza’s responded that, “We cannot continue to blame the youths for unemployment.
“You asked us to go to school and get an education so that we can get a good job and have a good life. Yes we have had the education and there are no jobs, so you lied!”
Society continues to treat the youths as if they are stupid and the youths’ say,
“(You asked us to go to school and get an education so that we can get a good job and have a good life. Yes we have had the education and there are no jobs, so you lied!)”
Mr. Mabuza echoed his co-panelists’ position that it is not the youths’ fault that they are unemployed. He said, “In the last economic boom, employers and government failed to prepare for knowledge economy, skills economy and green economy. He added that the other major problem is that employers’ prefer college graduates with experience, “how would the youths acquire the experience needed if they are not hired?” he asked.
Bringing in the global perspective, Ahmed Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth stated that “74-75 million youths around the globe are unemployed and it is not entirely their fault that they are unemployed, it’s simply that society has failed them! Youth unemployment is not about numbers, it’s about the psychological damage that’s happening to this generation – waking up every morning, having the skills and the knowledge, and having no place to go. It’s happening all over the world. At the rate the economy is growing, about 600 million jobs will need to be filled in 10 years and the world needs to prepare the youths with the skills set, the knowledge and ability to fill these jobs. The United Nations approach in solving this problem is a global strategy that employs multi-state dialogues that involves young people.”
Dr. Jacob Frankel, Chairman, JP Morgan Chase International added, “The percentage of youth unemployment varies from country to country and so does the contributing factors, which includes an individual’s level of education, training, skills and the overall economic buoyancy of the country.”
With thirty-six-years of service, Vice President Joe Biden is said to be one of a handful of thirteen U.S. senators who have served the longest in American history. His keynote speech at the Concordia Summit coincided with the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Speaking from personal experience, Mr. Biden said “There is nothing worse than getting a phone call that your child is gone, or your sister, brother, your wife is gone, and part of the dysfunction of our political system today, is that there is an overwhelming consensus in America on two things equally defensible, the 2nd Amendment and Gun Control.”
Switching gears, he went on to talk about global issues; Climate Change, Freedom of Press, Human Trafficking, Terrorism, Poverty etc. Mr. Biden in alarm, stated that “Climate Change is an issue of life and death! It’s an issue of national security!”
He charged the millennials in the audience with the responsibility to take the issue of ‘Global Warming’ seriously and find solutions to it. “We can’t do it without your intellectual, political and moral support, said the Vice President – underscoring that public-private partnership is the only way to create sustainable energy solutions that will position the U.S. to compete in the 21st century economy; to create millions of good-paying jobs on which you can raise a family, and begin to revive the middle-class in America …The middle class are the glue that has held the political and social fabric of this nation together for the past thirty-years. If the middle-class goes well, jobs go well, and the poor have a way out!”
“When people think their possibilities are no longer within their reach, Things Change!!”
In closing, Vice President Biden (his emotion palpable) said, “I can describe ‘The American Dream’ in one word, ‘Possibilities!’ When people think their possibilities are no longer within their reach, Things Change!”
Bukola Shonuga is an independent journalist and a member of the U.S. Foreign Press.
Visit www.concordia.org for a full video of the summit.
FEATURED PHOTO CREDIT: PHOTO BY BUKOLA SHONUGA