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Advancing Equity, Inclusion and Youth Participation in the Green Economy

In Partnership with Save the Children, Concordia Global Patron Member

Quotes

“Corporate America that has a global platform, that has a global interest, has a responsibility that extends beyond profit but also one that informs purpose.” Gary Officer

“In this transition to a green economy there will be many that will be left behind unless appropriate public and private policies are in place.” Kee Beom Kim

«If we are not an active voice for the implications of inequality and where those jobs are going to come from, I think we are failing as a group. But I look around this table and we are exactly the right people to begin carrying this message forward…» David Barth

“…the private sector needs to establish a culture of transparency around mapping skilling requirements early…” Caspar Henke 

One of the big trends we’re seeing across all companies is a doubling down on purpose in the organization, on having a very clear environment, social, and government policy…. Who are you hiring? Who is working in your organization? At what levels of the organization? Are you a diverse company that is taking inclusion seriously?”  — Elizabeth Roscoe

“Empowering youth is something we found to be quite helpful, but we need to ensure that we are closing the gap that needs to be closed in the first place…With a global [green] movement, sometimes it feels like the approach has to be the same, but particularly for those [in Africa], the massive divergence in terms of energy access and disposable income are very varied. For example, you wouldn’t present solutions [in Africa] the way you would in Europe. We need to be contextualizing the solutions.” — Pearl Uzokwe

“We’ve [the Global Opportunity Youth Network] set up at the local level, in communities and cities, collaboratives [made up of] youth advisory groups, government leaders at the local level, business leaders, and education non-profit leaders, and that multi-stakeholder group is deciding what the best opportunities are for young people to advance over the next decades.”Jamie McAuliffe

“Young people are most often good planners. They are very hard workers. They have a lot of potential [to help] at the company…and if young people are guided properly, they can continue to change.” Maksud, Youth Participant

Key Takeaways

Contact us at partnerships@concordia.net for more information about this initiative, or visit Save the Children to learn more about their work with Accenture and other partners to engage youth in employment.

Save the Children and Accenture have partnered for a decade on successful youth economic development programming. They are aware that companies that have recently made commitments to reduce carbon emissions by investing in the green sector are having trouble finding skilled employees to carry out these tasks; at the same time, disadvantaged young people who are interested in engaging in this sector are unable to see a pathway to employment. Since COVID-19 has increased unemployment and decreased access to learning and career development for youth – particularly young women, youth with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and other minority youth – Save the Children convened a roundtable to share the lessons learned from their work with Accenture and other partners around youth skill building and employment. 

Save the Children seeks to build on this foundation of knowledge to create brighter futures for disadvantaged youth in a green economy; they have tapped Accenture to assist in this goal. With this and future conversations, they intend to uncover ways in which young people can be connected with companies in need of skilled employees. Ultimately, this initiative creates a win-win situation: companies can fulfill their commitments to the environment while at-risk adolescents and youth can equitably compete for green jobs, after gaining the skills and job linkages they need to break free from the cycle of poverty. This roundtable brought together members of the business world, government, philanthropic institutions, and NGOs to share perspectives and discover convergent interests and challenges with respect to green jobs and youth engagement in the green economy. 

Mutual agreement on the following points emerged from this conversation. First was the recommendation for the adoption of government policies and public-private partnerships so that when employers create decent jobs in the green economy, all young people have the pathways they need – through corporate assistance in apprenticeships, mentorships, work-based learning, and public/governmental assistance through education – to acquire the necessary skills to compete for them. High-quality programs like Accenture’s had training for these future jobs in place, but the arrival of COVID-19 accelerated the global adoption of digital technologies and, almost overnight, employers demanded different sets of skills. Roundtable members identified the need for early skills mapping to determine the specific skills required for a green job and to transition honed skills to those jobs. 

With respect to skills development and initiative adoption, members agreed that contextualization is important; consideration should be given to how accessible training is for disadvantaged youth and the skills and education required for the green jobs available where they live. Companies’ implementation of clear environmental and social policies will ensure transparency and equality in the hiring process. 

The youth panelists highlighted the need for education and guidance around the concept of a “green economy” and genuine support in the interest of their futures. They exhibited accountability for their futures in the steps they had taken to acquire marketable skills and a desire to be part of the conversation around climate change. In closing, Greta expressed gratitude for the panelists’ and genuine support of and interest in their futures. She recognized Save the Children’s Skills to Succeed program for the chance it afforded her to develop confidence and marketable skills. Maksud highlighted for the panel the great potential of today’s youth if employers provide direction and opportunity. 

The roundtable discussion concluded with an appreciation for shared perspectives and a proposal to reconvene in order to plan next steps. 

Specific and timely recommendations in pursuit of that vision by participants included:

  • It is important to educate all youth about the possibilities created by the green economy and the steps to access them so they can share in the responsibility for their own development.
  • Corporations, philanthropic institutions, and NGOs must advocate for public and private policies to connect typically underrepresented youth – such as young women, youth with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and other minority youth – with appropriate skills to seize diverse opportunities which require varying levels of education.
  • Corporations must decide what training for green economy jobs looks like (i.e. skills mapping) and the roles of government, corporations, and NGOs in matching youth to training and jobs.
  • The public and private sectors must collaborate to determine appropriate and tailored pathways (for example, job readiness programs, mentorships, apprenticeships) to bring youth from all over the world and all backgrounds along in the green economy.
  • Corporations should strive to have clear environmental and social policies in place and commit to transparency in the hiring process to ensure inclusion and equity.