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Welcome to the Future of Work

8 June 2021

How do we talk about work opportunities and career paths in a post-COVID world, where so many young people have lost their jobs and their hopes? The YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Summit on the Future of Work started on 7 June by giving a main direction: the world has changed, and young people must adapt.

The opening plenary of the event, moderated by Trang Truong-Hill, set the context.

Marco Tavanti, Director and Professor at the University of San Francisco, highlighted the importance of UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: “It focuses on decent work for all as part of economic growth. That is why it is important to focus on a future built on a green economy, green jobs and sustainability solutions. We are excited about these new possibilities for creating better conditions for all, and for future generations”.

Marco Tavanti speaking

Life-long learning

As the world is changing, the speakers stressed the importance of adapting what people learn at school and university to the needs of today. “150 million jobs will be created in the next five years, so there is room to get a job, but you need to have the skills to get there” said Christian Scharff, Advisory Partner and Human Resources Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Hana Sahatqia, Youth Engagement Lead for Generation Unlimited, agreed: “Developing skills and capabilities through life-long learning (…) – these are key drivers of the economy but also of individual wellbeing. We need to focus on upskilling and reskilling.”

Kevin Frey, CEO of Generation Unlimited, ‘the world’s first PPYP – public-private-Youth-partnership’ painted a picture of a volatile, complex, uncertain world of work, with over half of companies predicting job cuts due to automation, and over half of the workforce needing upskilling. ‘We are seeing fundamental changes in the world of work,’ he said. ‘The focus has to be on people, not jobs, and all our solutions lie in cooperation and collaboration.’  Generation Unlimited works in 47 countries, and he described partnerships bringing jobs and training in India and Brazil.

Creating your own path

Many young innovators are also interested in launching their own business. Maria Rahamägi, Founder of Edumus, shared some advice to those who want to create their own company: “Take part in the YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Summit to get inspired and to network. Let your inspiration and passion grow from here, don’t be shy.  If you are passionate, share your thoughts and contact the people who can help. And last but not least, be patient with yourself.”

“Make your own future whatever you want it to be. If there is a problem and you do not like the solution, go for your own solution. Be yourself, show your potential and change the status quo. Don’t let people pull you down, and be resilient”, said Nathan Candaner, CEO of Jobzmall, who shared his own story.

The beginning of the journey

At the end of the plenary, the UN Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake told participants: “2021 has already seen a real focus on young people as innovators and solution makers (…) This is an event for your collective future and for the Future of Work. I very much look forward to following the exciting outcomes that will come out of your conversations”.

World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee closed the session: “Dear friends, this is the beginning of the journey. I would like to invite you to continue to invest your time, to learn about new opportunities and take them. The world belongs to those who prepare for it”.

Breakout sessions Day 1

The 400 participants who attended Day 1 attended different online sessions.

Workshop: Personal branding – how to shape your social media profiles to catch employers’ attention

Workshop: A spotlight on the Future of Work in Sierra Leone and Liberia – accessibility and inclusion of vulnerable young people in computing

Workshop: Global Opportunity Youth Network: Youth voice and engagement in work systems change

Roundtable Discussion: Youth voices for The Future of Work

Workshop: Discover ‘JobzMall’ – the talent marketplace for the new workforce

Workshop: Having courageous conversations in your workplace, a discussion game-based session.

Roundtable Discussion: The Future of Work in the Age of Job Automation

Breakout Panel: “How do young people prepare today for the future of work?”

Collectively we are in good hands to explore a world of work in transformation: a world of opportunity for young people (Ayo A.)

The whole session was awesome, it filled me up with so much optimism and confidence, let’s keep it up (Rahul C.)

More to come on Day 2 of the Youth Led Solutions Summit on the Future of Work.

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