We asked young people about work and skills. Here’s what they told us

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Nadi Albino, Senior Advisor, Partnerships, Generation Unlimited & Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC


  • We polled 11,000 young people around the world and spoke to a small group of them about the future of work and skills.
  • Almost two-thirds are optimistic they will get the job they want.
  • They say the pandemic has bolstered their resilience, but that today’s education system is not giving them the skills they need.
  • And that soft skills are just as important as technical abilities.

In a world of social disparities, where education has been severely disrupted by COVID-19 and the spectre of climate change looms, young people could be forgiven for being pessimistic about their futures. However, our new poll shows high levels of optimism about the chance of having the career they want. Young people know the challenges, but are confident they can overcome them.

Conducted through UNICEF’s U-report platform – a messaging tool that empowers young people to speak out on issues that matter to them – the poll found that 63% of the almost 11,000 youth across 136 countries who took the survey believe it is likely they will have the career they want in the future.

So why are many young people so positive? And what would the almost two in five young people who are pessimistic like to see to help them achieve their potential? On World Youth Skills Day, we spoke with a small group of youth to help understand what is driving this optimism and what challenges they are worried about. Here is what we learned from them.

Building resilience and adaptability through the pandemic

I wish life was a game which came with instructions, but unfortunately we don’t have that roadmap that can tell us exactly what we should do to get to where we want to be.—Praise Majwafi, 22, South Africa

A topic we talked about was the impact of the pandemic on young people. Participants agreed that because the past year has been so challenging, it has taught them to manage through uncertainty.

“The pandemic has given us a crash-course in resilience and adaptability,” said 23-year old Sana Farooq, the co-founder of a social enterprise in Pakistan called The Red Code.

“Being flexible and adaptable is something we’ve all had to get used to,” added 22-year old Praise Majwafi, a social entrepreneur from South Africa.

Having been forced to manage through a very challenging year may have given many young people the confidence that if they can overcome this, they can overcome anything.

“In the face of hardship, we always have the possibility to stagnate or to thrive. And that’s the motto I wake up to every day; thrive to survive,” said 25-year old Andrea De Remes, co-founder of an e-learning education platform called Erandi Aprende, which provides resources, tools and educational programmes to get young girls aged 8-12 interested in science and technology. “I think the youth have the power, tools and opportunities to make that happen.”

Today’s education system isn’t fully meeting the needs of young people

I feel like I am learning all the theory and the content which is really important, but not the practical skills I will need later in the field, which is a huge miss.—Ulises Brengi, 21, Argentina

When asked what would make the biggest difference for them to achieve their career goals, 32% of the young people who took the U-report poll selected job-ready skills programmes in school, ahead of things like access to on-the-job training (28%), access to relevant online resources (20%), and a good mentor (19%).

“The one thing that would make the biggest difference to me is to actually learn the skills that the job market will require from me once I graduate from university,” said 21-year old Ulises Brengi, a landscape architecture student from Argentina.

Insights like this should inform how education systems and youth programmes are designed and rolled out, working alongside policies designed to create jobs and encourage entrepreneurship.

Soft skills are just as important as technical abilities

We are feeling disconnected, and what does it come down to? It’s about communication. And more than anything for me, it’s about active listening.—Andrea De Remes, 25, Mexico

Learning job-ready skills isn’t just about acquiring the technical abilities to do the job; soft skills are just as important. We all agreed that to be successful, young people will need to become lifelong learners and build strong soft skills such as leadership, creativity and communication.

“As an extrovert, I sometimes struggle to take a backseat and sit down and listen to people,” said Andrea. “That’s something I want to work on.”

Sana spoke about the importance of active listening, too. “Every day, I interact with people with disabilities, with community leaders, with women and with children. Listening to them is key as it’s the only way to begin to understand the problems they are facing,” she said.

The same principle applies when designing upskilling solutions for youth. The only way to create sustainable skills programmes is by involving young people themselves. By continuing to listen to them, businesses, governments, international organizations and other stakeholders can better understand the challenges young people are facing and engage them in the development of solutions. https://www.youtube.com/embed/HlmoiQNUvvo?enablejsapi=1&wmode=transparent

Young people are the key to a better future

Praise shared a powerful vision for the future, one in which youth are at the centre of global progress. “In the hands of the largest generation of young people in history, the potential for global progress is unlimited,” she said. “And through purposeful engagement and collaboration, nothing can stand in our way.”

We couldn’t agree more. And we are both committed to doing what we can to help young people succeed through our involvement in Generation Unlimited, a global multi-sector coalition aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030.

Let’s all work together to make Praise’s vision a reality.

You can watch highlights from our session here.

The session was just one expression of our shared commitment to helping address the growing gap between the skills people have and those they need for the new digital world. PwC and UNICEF are collaborating in support of Generation Unlimited to help upskill millions of young people around the world. Among the founding partners of the WEF’s Reskilling Revolution Platform, our organisations are contributing to the initiative to provide better jobs, education, and skills to one billion people by 2030.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see http://www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

4 innovative renewable energy projects powering Europe’s green future

Financing economic recovery, written by United Nations Under-Secretary-General

Is your smart home as safe as you think?

45th Anniversary of the French Confederation (Confédération Nationale des Junior Entreprises)

A Europe that delivers: EU citizens expect more EU level action in future

Islamophobia is driving more US Muslims to become politically engaged, suggests report

MEPs condemn attacks on civilians, including children, in Yemen

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

8 fascinating and fearsome frontiers of science you should know about

Making the move to more sustainable mobility – three steps for companies

Colombia: Rights experts condemn killing of reintegrated former rebel fighter, call for respect of peace process

EU-Russia summit in the shadows of Kiev’s fumes

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

6.1 billion EUR for sustainable fisheries and safeguarding fishing communities

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Safeguarding civilians, strengthening Ebola response in DR Congo, marking Fistula Day, updates on CAR and Syria

This is how India can become the next Silicon Valley

Turkey: Commission continues humanitarian support for refugees

19th EU-China Summit: A historical advance in the Chino-European rapprochement

The woman who wanted to be treated the same as the man

These countries are the most peaceful – in 3 charts

Alternative proteins will transform food, mitigate climate change and drive profits. Here’s how

Estonia: use robust growth to improve income equality and well-being

The use of mobile technologies in Radiation Oncology: helping medical care

These countries are leading the way in green finance

Shenzhen just made all its buses electric, and taxis are next

4 eco-friendly products put sustainable spins on classic practices, from teacups to hankies

Why the future is bright for drone technology

‘Jerusalem is not for sale’ Palestinian President Abbas tells world leaders at UN Assembly

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

Look Mom, even the House of Lords says the #righttobeforgotten is not right

Portuguese Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

An economist explains how to value the internet

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Cum-ex tax fraud scandal: MEPs call for inquiry, justice, and stronger tax authorities

Libyan authorities must shoulder the burden to support country’s ‘vulnerable’ south

COVID 19 Vaccine: A new terror or a savior for mankind?

State aid: Commission approves €150 million Austrian subordinated loan to compensate Austrian Airlines for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The status of the Code of Medical Ethics: loading

UN Security Council offers Yemen Special Envoy ‘their full support’

Over 1 million health consultations provided in Yemen in 2019: UN migration agency

Why the ECB prepares to flood the markets with more and free of charge euro; everybody needs that now

“I believe that startups are for grown-up men, those, who have already achieved something “

Do not jeopardise future-oriented EU programmes, say EP’s budget negotiators

‘Global sisterhood’ tells perpetrators ‘time is up’ for pandemic of violence

One Hundred Years of Qipao History: from Shanghai to EU

Finland is a world leader in clean energy. Here’s what’s driving its success

Nearly four million North Koreans in urgent need, as food production slumps by almost 10 per cent

Will the Greek economy ever come back to growth?

3 important lessons from 20 years of working with social entrepreneurs

At this ‘critical moment’, UN chief urges anti-corruption conference to adopt united front

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

EU lawmakers vote to reintroduce visas for Americans over “reciprocity principle”

‘Endemic’ sexual violence surging in South Sudan: UN human rights office

Public Policies for LGBT in Brazil

A faster, fairer way to retire carbon-emitting assets

Amid pandemic detours, mental health matters

Coronavirus: Commission concludes talks to secure future coronavirus vaccine for Europeans

Why hourly workers should have the same benefits as salaried ones

How do we design an inclusive energy transition?

State aid: Commission approves €300 million Austrian scheme to support organisers of events affected by coronavirus outbreak

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s