1.8 billion people in the world are between 10 and 24 years old. They are among the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis and need to be included in building a sustainable, inclusive and green recovery.
To bring youth voices into policy debates, the OECD created in 2021 Youthwise – an advisory group of people between 18 and 30 years old – as part of our “I am the future of work” campaign and the OECD Youth Action Plan we were developing to help countries design better policies for young people.
After spending 10 months engaging with the OECD, we are proud to share our youth advisors’ outcome below:
The Youthwise delegates:
Youthwise was officially launched with a session on identifying the challenges facing young people today and priority actions to support them to thrive in their professional lives.
The session kicked off with introductory remarks by the former OECD Secretary-General. This was followed by keynote speeches from the Director for Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs Stefano Scarpetta, the French Ambassador Muriel Pénicaud, and on behalf of Youthwise.
Youthwise members then further discussed their ideas on challenges and solutions with OECD experts in 4 breakout sessions. It was a great start to Youthwise’s engagement with the OECD!
The OECD hosted its first consultation of the year with the Youth20 (Y20) on the Future of Work and digitalization of the labour market.
The event began with a short introduction from Anthony Gooch, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the OECD, highlighting the importance of youth engagement in the OECD's work and the fruitful relationship it has garnered with the Y20.
Then followed a presentation by Stefano Scarpetta, Director for Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs at the OECD, who spoke, among other things, on automation, demographic shifts, digital skills, and the impact of COVID-19 on youth employment.
Y20 chair Alberta Pelino then took the floor, followed by representatives from Italy, China, Canada, and Saudi Arabia, to share their findings and vision for the communique they will provide to leaders and ministers during the G20.
With Youthwise members also in attendance as observers, this event proved to be an excellent opportunity for youth engagement in policymaking.
Andrea Bittnerová, OECD Youthwise member, represented Youthwise at the OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct, following a presentation and round table hosted by the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs with Youthwise members on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) at the end of July. Andrea was joined by Tyler Gillard, Head of Due Diligence, OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct and other prominent leaders from the business community.
Andrea talked about the importance of intergenerational dialogue, the need to work in partnership with the private sector to improve communities and working conditions around the world, and the need to allow young people to lead and be heard at future Responsible Business Conduct Forums. “RBC should not be something nice to have, something forced by legislation, but naturally integrated part of the business model, mission, vision and values of the organization, and even part of the company’s culture. Businesses need to look both inward – towards their employees – and outward – towards their communities.”
Youthwise met with five Permanent Representatives to the OECD to discuss the Organisation’s revised Vision Statement. The Statement’s aim is to reaffirm the OECD’s core values, its commitment to addressing present and future challenges, and provide a refreshed outlook for the Organisation.
The brainstorming session was an opportunity for Youthwise to share their reactions to the draft, to engage with Dutch Ambassador Biessen, Canadian Ambassador Chenette, Turkish Ambassador Alkin, Spanish Ambassador Escudero and Slovak Ambassador Ružička, and to ask thoughtful questions as OECD stakeholders.
In particular, Youthwise underscored that the climate and biodiversity crises are existential and require immediate action. Moreover, sustainable jobs and the future of work (including digitalisation, the gig economy, skills, and entrepreneurship) were focal points of discussion. How to best enact change and what role the OECD should have on the international stage was also deliberated.
The exchange provided valuable youth perspectives to the Ambassadors who will continue working on the Vision Statement over the coming months.
Zilfi Sert, OECD Youthwise member, represented her Youthwise colleagues at the launch of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) Youth Network and webinar “Young people exiting the crisis”. Zilfi joined young trade unionists and Ambassador Muriel Penicaud, Permanent Representative of France to the OECD, to talk about the importance of including young people in the conversations about the world of work after the pandemic.
Zilfi talks about the need to focus on the accessibility of education, and the importance of highlighting the nexus between healthcare and nutrition, unequal access to work, and rising debt levels as being issues that need urgent attention. "It feels like youth is in an experimental case study in this pandemic where the governments act as researchers and look at how we struggle."
Youthwise members met with Senior Economist Veerle Miranda from the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs. The focus of the brainstorming session was on the OECD’s Youth Action Plan.
Youthwise members identified many positives within the Youth Action Plan, as well as areas for expansion. The discussion that ensued covered various topics: from guaranteed and quality employment opportunities, the climate and biodiversity crises, civic education, public-private collaboration to future challenges aside from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The comments provided by Youthwise members will now feed into the ongoing work that the OECD is undertaking on developing its Youth Recommendation.
Manpreet Deol, OECD Youthwise member, represented Youthwise at the OECD Forum Series 2021: Empowering Workers, Delivering a Jobs-rich Recovery. Manpreet spoke alongside Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, and Mr. Martin J Walsh, United States of America Secretary of Labour. The event complemented the release of the OECD Employment Outlook on July 7. Manpreet closed the session by talking about the impact of COVID on employment, and jobs, drawing particular attention to concerns linked to the prospects of young people.
Read the OECD Forum Article by Anna Jeppesen, OECD Youthwise member: "The Future Out There: Transitioning from education to work"
Jim Frindert, OECD Youthwise member, was a speaker in the OECD Forum series Equity in Education: Unlocking Opportunities Throughout Life
During the 2021 OECD Youth Week:
Yam Atir, OECD Youthwise member, moderated the High-level Opening Session: Prepared for the future featuring Mathias Cormann, OECD Secretary-General, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Youth, New Zealand, Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga, Portugal, Jack Dalrymple, Chief Executive Officer, Global Voices, Lauren Freixe, CEO Zone Americas, Nestlé and Muriel Pénicaud, Ambassador of France to the OECD.
Anna Jeppesen, OECD Youthwise member, intervened at Youth consultation on the building blocks fo the upcoming OECD Youth Recommendation, recalled the Youthwise Contributions and ideas:
At the 2021 meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial level, Ministers welcomed the proposal to develop an OECD Recommendation to promote a government-wide strategy to support young people. Building on the recently updated OECD Youth Action Plan, the proposed Recommendation should set out a range of policy principles to improve youth measures and outcomes in all relevant policy areas, including employment and education policies, social policies and public governance. During this consultation, young people can propose ideas to address the challenges that their generation faces today and discuss how these suggestions could be integrated into the proposed Recommendation.
Markus Kutvonen participated on a panel Developing skills at work: Apprenticeship as an attractive pathway for youth. The session discussed how governments and employers are innovating apprenticeships to make them more attractive to youth, while ensuring that they provide high-quality training that facilitates transitions into the labour market and into further learning.
The panel discussion brought together the views from policy-makers, employers, youth and the not-for-profit sector. “Public discussion surrounding different paths should be geared towards young people’s individual needs rather than the form of education they take. Although there are differences, all paths should be viewed equally as important to give all young people equal opportunities.” Read the background note.
Read the OECD Forum Article by Jack Garton, OECD Youthwise member: "Overcoming the climate mergence is our chnace to re-imagine the world"
Markus Kutvonen represented Youthwise at the Itsenäisyyden juhlavuoden lastensäätiö (ITLA) webinar on Youth Well-being ”Good job Youth?!”. Panellists discussed young peoples hopes for the future, and the essential skills needed for their future working lives. Markus introduced and shared his experience with Youthwise, and shared his own perspectives on the Future of Work.
Youthwise joined the OECD Public Affairs and Communications Directorate, and the OECD Environment Directorate to discuss the importance of including Young people and their perspectives at the OECD Virtual Pavilion at COP 26. Andrew Prag, Senior Advisor, Environment Directorate gave a briefing to Youthwise on OECD work to help tackle climate change, and talked to Youthwise about contributing to and following the work of future projects and initiatives. In the end, it was decided that Youthwise would substantively contribute to a side event by recommending speakers, and providing remarks from the group at an event during COP26 on November 5th.
Brian O’Shea participated on a panel at the OECD Local Development Forum event on local actions to support school-to-work transitions, in partnership with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. "Community is the superpower of local employment interventions. Engaging communities which young people are embedded in is an opportunity to wield a social sensibility and tap into networks which broader programs can only dream of. Some forget what it's like to be a young person. Understanding young people is the first step towards implementing solutions that can help young people as they leap from school to work"
João Cardoso represented OECD Youthwise to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and Portuguese Parliamentarians in a special meeting of the PACE Sub-committee on Youth, Education, and Sport. The Parliamentarians discussed issues related to youth and post-pandemic recovery, resilience plans, and how parliaments of the Council of Europe and OECD countries can get engaged and what measures should be taken to support young people in a post-pandemic world.
João talk to participants about what Youthwise is, and highlighted some of the successes of the program thus far, he also talked about the importance of engaging young people throughout the processes of building back better, noting that communication with young people and decision makers is lacking. “The parliaments and the political class, in trying to spread their resolutions and public consultations to the wider public, are still stuck in their “old ways” or not invested enough in the forms of communication that young people use nowadays”
Angela Gales represented Youthwise at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) round table on the “Inclusion of Youth Voices in Policymaking & In Strategic Processes”. Angela was invited to speak at the second of three break out panels “Inclusion is not a choice: Making systematic youth engagement a reality for all”. “As a young person, I sometimes feel powerful and full of energy, but there are times when I also feel somehow powerless when I observe all the issues I would like to change. In this light, being a member of Youthwise is the occasion for me to channel my voice, and to unite it with the voices of other young people around me.”
Youthwise was invited by the OECD Forum Engagement Group to participate in a discussion on skills and career readiness. Antony Mann briefed Youthwise members on the education to work transition and OECD work to help decision makers better support young people. Youthwise then engaged with a members of the Engagement group, and participated in breakout sessions where participants discusses how the private sector can support young people in early career development, and possible measures businesses can take to address mental health concerns in the work place. Young people wish to be a part of the policy conversation, to share ideas, to find solutions. In these times of crisis more than ever, we wish to give our insights and to be included in the exchange.”
Deok Yi was featured in a video commemorating 25 years of Korea’s membership to the OECD.
Brian O’Shea spoke at the OECD Virtual Pavilion at COP26 at an event “ Saving the planet and finding work: The double anxiety of youth?”. Panellists discussed what skills young people need to make a positive environmental impact, how young people can navigate their dual anxieties on climate and career, and what role they might expect from employers in ensuring the transition is both sustainable and inclusive. Brian was on a panel moderated by Andrew Prag, OECD Environment Directorate, and joined by Dyah Roro Esti Widya Putri, Member of the House of Representatives, Republic of Indonesia. Watch a recording of the event!
Konstantinos Papachristou participated on a panel for the high-level launch of the OECD Recommendation on Children in the Digital Environment. He was joined by representatives from the G7 and G20 presidencies, and other high-level government officials from OECD countries.
Konstantinos highlighted the importance of accessibility, including civil society, and the link between responsible voting and knowledge sharing in digital environments.
Read the OECD Forum Article by Yam Atir, OECD Youthwise member: "The Power of Youth: Defending youth interests and advocating for a more collaborative tomorrow"
Read the OECD Forum Article by Hubert Put, OECD Youthwise member: "The Power of Youth: Youth unemployment and skills acquisition in times of crisis"
As the outcome of their 10 months' engagements with the OECD, Youthwise prepared a document with their insights on youth and work-related issues which we are proud to share: Young people and the future (of work): 10 key insights from Youthwise
Youthwise 2021 met for the final time during their tenure to present their key insights paper to OECD Deputy Secretary-General Ulrik Knudsen, Italian Ambassador Antonio Bernardini, Turkish Ambassador Kerem Alkin as well as to a representative from the Australian Delegation to the OECD. They also engaged in a feedback session with the Youthwise team to reflect on their year of successes and to help strengthen the programme ahead of the recruitment of Youthwise 2022.
The future of work is now. Digitalisation and globalisation have sparked radical shifts in how we live and work. The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has accelerated these beyond anything we could have imagined.
These changes raise essential questions about the precarity of our jobs, the support available if we're unable to work or retire, the skills we need for current and future jobs, the quality of those jobs, and what voice we have in shaping these outcomes.