From education to employment

World’s largest education non-profit hosts policy session on youth education, investment and empowerment

students sat on steps with books and laptops

Invest more in education to ensure that all young Europeans get the opportunity to be well-positioned on the labour market

JA Europe session featured best practice showcases from Italian Youth Agency, UNICEF, NN Group and Accenture and highlighted how more resources can be mobilised to effectively serve underserved youth in Europe.

Worldwide, around 1.1 billion jobs are liable to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade. But globally, a skills shortage exacerbated by the pace of technological change and global challenges means we need investment now, to upskill and equip youth.

We will need to reskill one billion people by 2030 worldwide and in Europe, where 4 out of 10 adults lack basic digital skills, reaching the EU’s goal of 80 percent of Europeans with basic digital skills won’t happen without this.

If we want to re-charge the economy, empower undeserved youth and equip them with the right skills to close these gaps, then mobilising resources to achieve this needs to be the priority.

Alongside JA Europe’s annual flagship event — the Gen-E 2023 European Entrepreneurship Event in Istanbul, a high-level policy session on Youth Empowerment Through Education, with a Focus on Underserved Youth — to tackle these very issues was hosted, together with NN Group.

The session showcased best practices from policy, business and education and issued a powerful call to action for the international community – governments and businesses – to mobilise more resources for the underserved. It also highlighted how businesses have a vital role in investing in education and by doing so, can build economic resilience, engage with communities and have a strong social impact.

The two-hour session moderated by Salvatore Nigro, CEO of JA Europe, made a strong case for a big scale investment into education of underserved youth from speakers including:

  • Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth, Bulgaria
  • Federica Celestini Campanari,Extraordinary Commissioner of the Italian Youth Agency
  • Nina Ferencic, Senior Regional Adviser on Adolescent Health, Development and Participation, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia
  • Henk Huisman, Head of Public and Government Affairs, NN Group and Board member JA Europe
  • Laurence Morvan,Chief of Staff to CEO Europe, Accenture

Key questions included how the business community can be mobilised for the underserved, what differentiates private sector investment into education from the public sector and how the two can complement each other to empower youth in Europe.

The session also saw stakeholders, businesses and policymakers engage in a Q&A followed by a showcase from JA Greece and JA Türkiye on examples from JA Europe’s ‘Economic Opportunities for All’ initiative on how underserved youth were empowered. We also heard from a JA Romania student team on what could be done more effectively to help underserved youth.

JA Europe, which organized the largest European Entrepreneurship event, is Europe‘s leading non-profit dedicated to creating pathways for employability, job creation and financial success. Its network operates across over 40 countries and last year, its programmes reached almost 6 million young people with the support of over 100,000 business volunteers and 140,000 teachers and educators. 

Salvatore Nigro, CEO of JA Europesaid:

“The youth of today have so much to offer our society, but they can’t deliver this alone. In fact, talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

Young people are facing challenges, including the ongoing skills gap shortage, the economic climate and aftershocks of the pandemic and for those from a lower socio-economic background or who have been displaced due to wars or natural disasters, these challenges and limitations are immense.

“The policy session, which included speakers, Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growth of Bulgaria, Nina Ferencic from UNICEF and Federica Celestini Campanari,Extraordinary Commissioner of the Italian Youth Agency, proved pivotal in looking at the roles of innovation and entrepreneurial skills in empowering youth and how the business community also plays a key part in mobilising resources.

“Now, the onus is on us to unite and collaborate to mobilise the business community, private and public sectors and policymakers across Europe to empower the underserved and build the youth of today up to help create futures for each generation to come.”

Milena Stoycheva, Minister of Innovation and Growthstated: 

“My message to the youth is: you have the power in your hands, you can make it happen. Public institutions are there to collaborate with you.I believe that no individual, person, country, organisation can work on their own in today’s world. Our mission should be to serve the underserved by joining forces. I propose to lead the innovation wave by hosting an international Forum connecting industry and government to create innovation valleys in Europe.” 

Henk Huisman,Head of Public and Government Affairs, NN Group & Board member JA Europesaid:

“We want to contribute to empowering the next generation of Europeans and strive that no one is left behind. Governments and businesses should work together so young people in Europe can develop themselves and discover new capabilities. We believe that education systems can have a big impact. Today we have shown that there are initiatives to empower the next generation with an impressive success rate. Now, we should aim to increase the scale of these successes and aim for greater impact so more young Europeans can learn and develop themselves.”

Laurence Morvan, Chief of Staff to CEO Europe, Accenture said:

“We all have responsibility to find and nurture diverse talent and tomorrow’s innovators, helping to create a more economically and digitally inclusive world. Through our global Accenture Skills to Succeed initiative, we collaborate with our partners to prepare people for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. These opportunities include building the skills and mindset for sustainable futures to land the right job or start a business. Since 2009, we have equipped more than 7.5 million people worldwide with the skills to make substantive improvements to their lives.”

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