Posts

Solving Youth Unemployment in Europe

“There are 26.2 million people unemployed in the EU today – an increase of more than 9 million people from 2008. This trend has significant economic, political and social consequences for Europe. The challenge for European leaders is to solve this puzzle and to help citizens find sustainable and long-term employment opportunities.”

(www.iiea.com – The Institute of International and European Affairs)

Sustainable and long-term employment opportunities do not include just generating new job posts, but also educating and preparing youth to be ready for responsibilities these job posts bring. Nowadays Millennials complain about the lack of open job posts, while businesses argue that Gen Y lack the needed skill sets.

Who is right and who is wrong?

Rather than taking one side, let us consider the fact that there is a gap in expectation setting from both sides: what young people want from their employers vs. companies’ expectations from their employees and the type of employee they would be more likely to hire. Imagine what would happen if we aligned supply and demand – the kind of the jobs young people are looking for and developing the set of characteristics young people need to perform in their dream jobs.

What is also often disputed when talking about youth unemployment is the mindset young people born as Gen Y share – they are ambitious but not humble; they expect excellent conditions from the get go; they are not prepared to start from scratch and work up the ranks, rather demanding everything right now. How can we make sure young people understand what is needed in order to land their dream job? How can we shift the current mindset?

As often happens, challenges arise from more than one source; it is the combination of everything mentioned above. On one hand, the education young people are acquiring is leaving them unprepared to deal with today’s job market reality. They lack practical knowledge, skills and strategic thinking, which are usually not acquired through formal education. And on the other hand, employers seek young people who are ready to dedicate themselves to work, learn and advance but who nevertheless have some previous experience or at least certain set of characteristics and skills. Do we as young people know what these characteristics are? And are we developing them?

On April 7th in Warsaw, Poland, Europe Youth to Business Forum will gather all stakeholders important in solving the issue of youth unemployment – young people, educators, government and business. They will have the opportunity to discuss and generate ideas on how collaboration can lead to solving this challenge in the region.

Join us on livestream (bit.ly/EuropeY2BF) and contribute to flipping the switch on youth unemployment in Europe!

4 Reasons Why AIESEC Provides the Perfect Education for an Entrepreneur: Part 2

This is part two of a Guest Blog from Tom Weaver, previous Member Committee President of AIESEC United Kingdom 2002-2003, Founder of Flypay.

On Monday, I introduced you to my AIESEC experience and how the skills I learned supported me in becoming an entrepreneur and founding my startup Flypay. Here are the other two reasons for why AIESEC provides the perfect education for the future entrepreneur:

Reason 3: Entrepreneurs need to have passion and belief in what you do

AIESEC is amazing at building passion.  It’s what makes AIESEC so successful and sustained over so many decades.  When people join AIESEC they learn how to channel that passion into getting other people just as passionate about the concept and the product.

When you create a startup, you need to really believe in what you’re doing, and feel passionate about it.  That passion will come through for your customers, partners and investors.  I’ve met founders who seemed bored with their own creations, and I wouldn’t put my money into them.

Reason 4: Entrepreneurs need to be accountable in a totally different way than employees are accountable to their managers

One of the most fascinating aspects of AIESEC (speaking, perhaps now, with a UK slant) is how Local Committees have non-contractual accountability to the Member Committees (national teams), and how Member Committees have accountability to their Board of Directors.

In the case of the Member Committees (MC), there are very strong similarities with running a startup.  The typical AIESEC Board does not “manage” the MC.  They are non-executive.  But the MCs are accountable to that board.

Having a startup that has gone through a funding round is the first experience I’ve had of being accountable to a board since leaving AIESEC.  Every job I had, no matter how senior, I was simply reporting to a manager.  The previous company I built, Flywheel, was a consultancy and did not need investment- the two directors were the board.

In Flypay, aside from the two founders (myself and my CTO, Chris), we have an amazing board to guide the organization, and to be accountable to.  I have one Non-Exec who has vast experience running very large restaurant groups and is very well known in the industry.  He gives us the “restaurant operator” insight.  We have a Non-Exec, who is also an investor, who knows all the CIOs in the restaurant sector personally and advises us on our business development.  And we have one Non-Exec, who represents two investors and has a lifetime of experience in technology investment and is steering us towards our second round.

My job as CEO in this regard is very similar to my role of Member Committee President.  I ensure we are being transparent to the board and giving them a clear picture of the state of the organization.  Monthly, I present how we’re doing, and get agreement on strategic items too important for us to decide just as founders, such as a funding strategy.  We often come up with strategic input, but we ensure the board has a say. Working with them closely and building a good relationship is critical to get the best out of my company and my AIESEC experience with accountability structures has been very useful.

Conclusion

Being an entrepreneur and starting your own company is an amazing roller-coaster ride.  But you don’t (necessarily) have to start a venture straight after AIESEC.  Have other experiences that give you ideas.  Often the best concepts for startups come from the frustration of spotting a problem in your current job, and knowing that your current employer or client is not geared towards solving it.  Understand what it’s like to be an employee before you have employees.

That being said, joining small businesses that give you good exposure to a range of problems can be a beneficial path to take. They may have nothing to do with where you eventually start your own business (I was in educational consulting, then design consulting, then customer experience innovation consulting… then Flypay!).  I’ve known other alumni that joined very large businesses, and have done exceedingly well to get in senior roles, but they are now used to working at a macro level and would struggle to deal with the minutiae you have to deal with as a founder in a startup.

Whatever you do, make the most of your time in AIESEC.  It is a wonderful incubator for your entire career, and I’m thankful every day I discovered it.

Flypay is running for the SMARTA 100 mobile business of the year and we would really appreciate your support.  Vote for us by clicking the following link: www.flypay.co.uk/vote You can follow the guys on Twitter at @flypayuk, or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/flypayuk

For more information on how to get  involved with AIESEC, please visit our website www.aiesec.org

Day 1 Wrap Up: How to make Youth-SWAP more actionable

Hello everyone,

Day One of the IANYD conference proved to be a long and informative one. Learning more about the Youth-SWAP, and how the United Nations wants to move forward with making sure it is implemented is quite an intense discussion.

I spent a large part of the day with one of AIESEC’s New York based representatives Eliane, and she helped bring me up to speed with the youth initiative and what AIESEC’s role could possibly be.

20130919-094947.jpg

There was a lot of emphasis on what the role of youth is with the UN. The Director of the United Nations Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin described it nicely by saying it is now the time that the UN is talking with and not talking to Youth.

20130919-094801.jpg

In the afternoon we split into working groups to come up with recommendations for the UN on how to take action on their commitments. I joined the working group on employment and entrepreneurship, because I thought AIESEC had a lot to contribute in that discussion.

The conversations with the people at the table were great, but for some reason they left me wanting to hear more- not necessarily more around SWAP, but more around action. As AIESECers, we are very used to having one year to make an impact; we have to move quickly, and start implementing right away or we risk doing nothing with the one year term we have. Sometimes this leads us to have the “legacy syndrome”, where we do anything to leave our mark, sometimes reinventing the wheel when we don’t have to. But overall, it teaches us that we must move fast to make an impact.

Youth-SWAP was released in 2012, and a year and a half later, it seems it is still not clear on the actions it wants it’s member states to take. If the UN really wants to make an impact in the area of Youth, which I feel it genuinely does, it needs to figure out how to work more swiftly and smart to start taking actions that improve the lives of young people now.

I will be talking a lot more with some of the other youth organisations, but also Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, whom is so passionate around making sure that the Action plan on Youth works! I hope that we can not only identify ways that we can make sure the commitments for employment and entrepreneurship are met, but also the role that AIESEC can play in these plans.

My question to you, and I hope you participate in this discussion:
If the overall goal of the employment and entrepreneurship focus area is to ensure greater opportunities for youth to secure decent work and income, what do you think the first actions need to be? And how can the UN and Youth organisations make this happen?