Social and welfare issues

OECD Youth Week

20 - 24 September 2021
See timing below*
Virtual events


The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the difficulties for many young people in finding a job, maintaining quality of life and getting the best out of education. The situation has been especially acute for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds as Covid-19 has affected their well-being and exacerbated the growing digital divide. If we do not act now, we risk leaving a whole generation behind.

The below series of engaging discussions will highlight the urgent need to invest in young people as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We will debate the challenges they face in the world of work, learning, and civic engagement and how we can work with them towards a brighter future. No matter how old you are, this is a chance to have your say and interact with experts working on issues impacting young people.


Main events

 Monday 20 September

  • EVENT 1 | High-level Opening Session: Prepared for the future? - 10.00-11.00 (CEST)

    Successful engagement of young people in the labour market, public life and society is crucial not only for their own personal well-being and economic prospects but also for inclusive economic growth and social cohesion. Yet, the current crisis reveals the vulnerability of young people. For many of them, the impact of the crisis will only be temporary, but for many others, there is a risk of long-lasting scars on their careers and broader social and economic outcomes, including trust in government and satisfaction with democracy.

    The high-level opening session with the OECD Secretary-General, Mathias Cormann will kick-off the OECD Youth Week 2021 and engage high-level decision makers, business and youth representatives to share their perspectives on how we can address the challenges young people face in the world of work, learning and participation in public life, and how to work together on better policies for better lives.



    Mathias Cormann, OECD Secretary General


    Yam Atir, OECD Youthwise


    - 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
    - Muriel Pénicaud, Ambassador of France to the OECD

  • Watch the video of the session
  • Time: 10.00-11.00 (CEST)


  • EVENT 2 | Youth consultation on the building blocks of the upcoming OECD Youth Recommendation, 12.00-13.30 (CEST)

    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. For more information about OECD Recommendations, please consult the Compendium of OECD Legal Instruments.

  • Time: 12.00-13.30 (CEST) - Closed event.
  • Summary of the discussion
  • Please contact [email protected] for further information.


  • EVENT 3 | Youth and Democracy in Times of Crisis, 14.00-15.30 (CEST)

    This ministerial roundtable will bring together policy makers and representatives from youth associations to discuss how governments can strengthen the participation and representation of young people in democratic processes during a crisis, notably in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The roundtable will present preliminary results from the 2nd edition of the OECD Youth and COVID-19 survey on the concerns of youth-led organisations over the long-term effects of the crisis and their priorities for the recovery. It will also present new OECD analysis on the integration of youth and intergenerational commitments in countries’ recovery measures.


Related information and documents

Tuesday 21 September

  • Event 4 | Investing in Youth, 14.00-16.00 (CET)

    Young people have been hard hit by the wide reaching labour market and social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Youth unemployment has increased considerably and many young people are suffering from financial insecurity, housing instability and mental distress. The recent OECD Risk that Matter survey shows that two in three young people think the government should be doing more to support them.

    This high-level policy dialogue session on employment and social policy will be opened by Deputy-Secretary General Ulrik Knudsen, followed by a discussion between Ministers and high-level government representatives on policy measures that countries have been taking during this crisis to support young people. Panellists will also discuss how countries are looking to continue, adapt, and potentially scale up their interventions to support the welfare and employment prospects of young people as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Wednesday 22 September  

  • Event 5 | Stand by Youth: How can businesses mobilise young entrepreneurs for the recovery? - 14.00-15.00 (CEST)

    Young entrepreneurs have huge potential to open up new opportunities for themselves and others. And yet while young people are more likely than adults to prefer starting up their own venture to working as an employee, before the crisis they were only half as likely to do so as the population as a whole. The young face many barriers to entrepreneurship – including in accessing the right training, advice, finance, and networks to start a venture. Tackling these barriers will be key to unlocking the talent and ideas of young people and empowering them to play a leading role in the recovery. This session will look at how firms themselves can support young people develop an entrepreneurial mindset as a route to a successful career – whether or not they go on to found a business.


    - Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Director, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities


    Carlos Sentís, JEUNE, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization of the European Union


    - Patrik Kovács, President of the SME & Entrepreneurship Committee, Business at OECD (BIAC)
    - Amy Stursberg, Executive Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation
    - Alban Maggiar, President, SMEunited
    - John Edwards, Senior Advisor, European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)

  • Watch the video of the session
  • Agenda
  • Time: 14:00 – 15:00 CEST
  • For more information: Stand by Youth initiative


  • Event 6 | From City Halls to City Streets: How Local Leaders and Practitioners are Helping Young People in the COVID-19 Era? - 15.00-16.15 (CEST)

    COVID-19 exacerbated pre-existing social and economic challenges faced by young people, such as underemployment, low wages and unaffordable housing. In addition, the pandemic had a disproportionate impact upon the young in already precarious situations, including youth from low-income backgrounds, immigrant families, youth with disabilities, and young parents. As key actors in many domains that matter for youth, local leaders have a crucial role to play in facilitating a good start for young people by working with local actors to provide coordinated support services. This special edition of the Champion Mayors Initiative’s Inequality Matters webinar series during OECD Youth Week 2021, organised in partnership with the OECD Local Development Forum, will look at the efforts taking place from city halls to city streets to empower youth during the COVID-19 era. It is organised as a joint conversation between Champion Mayors and local youth practitioners working on the ground.


    Sena Segbedzi, Coordinator for the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth initiative, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE), OECD

    - Peter Danielsson, Mayor of Helsingborg (Sweden)
    - Thomas Rogé, Head of the Youth Policy Division, Department of Youth and Sports, Paris (France)
    - John Wayman, Youth Mayor of Bristol (UK)
    - Denis Leamy, CEO, Cork Education and Training Board (Ireland) Chair of the OECD Local Employment and Economic Development Directing Committee
    - Marita Raisanen, Coordinator for Ohjaamo, a one-stop-shop guidance centre for young people in Jyväskylä, (Finland)


    Anna Rubin, Manager of the OECD Local Development Forum, CFE, OECD

Thursday 23 September  

  • Event 7 | What Generation Z thinks about school, the curriculum and their future - 12.00 - 12.45 (CEST)

    In this session we listen to what young people have to say. Students from different countries discuss whether schools are preparing them for future jobs and life. What’s going on in today’s classrooms and how can learning experiences improve? How can school curriculum better respond to their aspirations and differences (e.g. special needs, socio-economic background, gender, ethnic origin, location)? And what should future-ready school curricula look like?


    Miho Taguma, Senior Policy Analyst and Project Manager, OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 


    - Celina Færch, The University of Hong Kong, China
    - Dzhafar Kabidenov, Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Physics and Mathematics, Almaty, Kazakhstan
    - Dilay Kalınoğlu, MEF High School, Turkey
    - Tara Lumina, Santa Laurensia Junior High School, Indonesia
    - Soo-a Kim, Goyang Global High School, Korea


  • Event 8 | Getting a job: How schools can help students develop recruitment skills - 12.45 - 13.30 (CEST)

    Young people are hardest hit by unemployment, particularly during economic recessions. They’re also at a disadvantage in job hunts: they have less work experience, fewer useful contacts and less understanding of recruitment processes. Over the last year, the OECD has been reviewing datasets on young people around the world transitioning from school to work.

    As part of OECD Youth Week, we will look at what the evidence has to say, and discuss examples of effective practice from different countries focused on demystifying the recruitment process, helping students to develop their CVs/resumés and build their interview skills. The emphasis is on providing practical, evidence-driven advice to educators and career counsellors working with young people to prepare them well for the competition for work in the turbulent COVID labour market.

Friday 24 September 

  • Event 9 | Developing skills at work: Apprenticeship as an attractive pathway for youth, 14.00 - 15.30 (CEST)

    Apprenticeships combine learning in a school-based setting with learning in the workplace. These types of programmes allow apprentices to directly apply what they have learnt in school in a real work environment, while also learning on the job alongside experienced workers. Almost all countries have some form of apprenticeship programme available, but the way in which they are designed and delivered differ hugely between countries. Well-designed apprenticeship programmes support students in developing the skills needed in the labour market and facilitate school-to-work transitions by equipping students with a first work experience. In spite of the many known benefits of apprenticeships, many countries struggle to make the most of their apprenticeship system. One important challenge in many countries is the low attractiveness of the apprenticeship pathway, especially compared to academic routes. This session will discuss 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.



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