The announce comes from the private sector, specifically from telecom giant Vodafone. The launch of a ground-breaking international future jobs programme “What will you be?” will aim to provide career guidance and access to training content in the digital economy for up to 10 million young people across 18 countries. The Vodafone digital skills and jobs initiative is the largest of its kind in the world.
In parallel, the company also announced plans for a significant increase in the number of young people brought into the company to gain direct experience of the digital workplace. Vodafone will expand its existing graduate, apprenticeship, internship and work experience schemes worldwide to reach a total of up to 100,000 young people by 2022.
The two initiatives were announced as the tech giant published the results of a major international public opinion survey revealing the extent to which young adults aged 18-24 believe they are ill-equipped to participate in the digital economy despite being the first generation to be “born digital”.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 200 million young people are either unemployed or have a job but live in poverty. In many of the countries in which Vodafone operates, youth unemployment is at record levels, from 38% in Italy and 39% in Spain to 47% in Greece and 53% in South Africa. Previous studies have found that a prolonged period of unemployment shortly after a young person leaves education to enter the workforce can have a lifelong negative effect on individual confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.
Paradoxically, unemployment among young people is rising just as businesses of all types and sizes are struggling to fill a wide range of digital technology roles that are critical for future growth. The European Commission estimates that around 500,000 digital jobs across the European Union will remain unfilled by 2020.
Getting young people into work
Over the last year, Vodafone has worked with specialist psychologists, careers advisers and training providers to develop a smartphone-based service - called the Future Jobs Finder - that offers young people a simple but comprehensive gateway to new skills and opportunities for employment in the digital economy.
The first step in the Future Jobs Finder is a series of quick psychometric tests designed to identify each individual’s aptitudes and interests and then map these to the most appropriate job category in the digital economy. In the second step, the individual is directed to specific job opportunities in their chosen location, including opportunities with Vodafone. Users can also access relevant online digital skills training providers, with many of these courses available for free. On completing the tests, users also receive a summary of their skills and interests that can be used on their C.V. or in a job application.
Getting young people into Vodafone
As a leading technology company, Vodafone has a strong employer brand recognised by young people. In each of the 26 countries in which Vodafone operates, there are well-established graduate, apprenticeship and internship schemes as well as a wide range of work experience opportunities including coding classes for high school girls. Over the next five years, Vodafone will double the number of opportunities offered to under-25s to experience the world of work, reaching a total of 100,000. This represents the largest commitment to training and development of young people since the founding of Vodafone 33 years ago.
Unsupported and uncertain: young people and the digital economy
Vodafone commissioned YouGov to ask 6,000 18-24 year olds in 15 countries for their views on their future career aspirations and concerns. The findings from the Vodafone-YouGovThe State of iGen research include:
- more than two-thirds (67%) of young people interviewed said they had received insufficient or no careers advice at any point in their education or since leaving school or university;
- of those who had received careers advice during their time in education, just 15% said the careers advice they had received included more future-focused digital jobs, 38% felt the advice they had received was focused purely on traditional non-digital roles and 22% said the careers advice they received was ‘out-of-date’;
- more than half (56%) believe the greatest struggle for their generation is to find any kind of well-paid permanent job, a proportion rising to 64% among young women; and
- more than one-fifth (23%) appear to have lost all confidence, and worry they do not have the skills to take on any role, no matter how basic.
The full The State of iGen research - including a country-by-country breakdown and additional statistics - can be found here.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said: “This is a timely and welcome initiative by Vodafone. The digital economy has enormous potential to create decent jobs for youth and act as a catalyst for sustainable growth and development. This potential can only be realised if young people are equipped with the skills needed by our fast-changing economies. Tools such as the Future Job Finder can help them get on the right path.”
Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said: “No society can prosper if large numbers of its young people find themselves excluded from employment. Throughout history, new technologies have displaced established roles across multiple industries, narrowing the range of job opportunities. However, as old roles fall away, new roles emerge. Over time, every workplace will go digital, creating accelerating demand for a wide range of specialist technology skills. We want to help connect the new generation to the new world of work.”