This blog post was honestly inspired by the most excruciating hiring process I´ve ever had, and believe me, I´ve had many and in many industries. In the beginning I was intrigued by the process, but then I was angry. It was frustrating to go through a process that implied several hours of work previous to an actual interview and not even receive a “thank you for applying” note. This however got me thinking about the future of work in general, organizational present needs and the most important, how do we train youth so that they have the required skills for today´s competitive market?
A couple of business owners got a laugh out of hearing the hiring process I mentioned above, others just said “wow! I´m being too soft with my hiring process.” A dear friend of mine from Columbia University shared a recent hiring experience she had as well, and although the process wasn´t as long, her process involved several creative activities and a really competitive presentation. What I noticed about the recent stories we´ve had is that many companies are asking to see actual proposals and actual work samples applied to their particular cases. It´s understandable wanting to evaluate people in this way but it’s also a way to obtain work and ideas for free, which doesn´t seem too ethical to me. I´ve had to do it particularly for consulting jobs, which is understandable but there really should be a line between a job application and an unpaid consultancy.
Anyway, government conditions, profit and nonprofit work, startups, they all have different natures, different ways of operating, different salaries, work environment, hours, etc. I´ve personally lived these differences and experienced the different hiring processes as well as the work environment. Besides my personal experience, I looked into EDXs program MITx: Shaping the Future of Work, the world economic forums future of work 2016 report and the book “The Best Place to Work” by Ron Friedman, to see what experts have to say.
Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy was asked “What should youth do in order to be able to prosper in this world?” he answered “…strengthen those areas where humans have an advantage over machines. Become a better salesperson, negotiator, nurturing, caring for people, and nursing”. Along these same lines, the world economic forum report on the “future of jobs” established that some critical job categories that really stand out for 2020 will be data analysts and specialized sales representatives. This is essential information for the creation of programs for youth, particularly youth at risk programs. It´s absolutely possible to provide the right training for them to develop skills related to activities that could support these industries.
Oliver Cann, from the World Economic Forum, calls our present time “The Forth Industrial Revolution” he mentions that along with other socio-economic and demographic changes, the labor markets will change drastically within the next five years. The report mentions it will create a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies. We have to be prepared to face the impact these changes could have within lower and middle class. The world has been working towards improving working, living conditions and eradicating poverty, this last one being goal #1 for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, reason why the world Bank clearly stated:
“those who will determine whether or not the world succeeds in meeting this challenge—are today’s youth.”
We must learn from previous experiences as well as studies such as the one´s shown and adapt existing programs, so that new opportunities can emerge for youth.
Infograhpic by Soulutions for Youth Employment
The truth is, even businesses will have to invest in upskilling, reskilling and collaborating rather than competing on talent, as mentioned by Oliver Cann. According to the US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, “The more education you have, the greater the chances are that you can punch your ticket to the middle class and then stay there”. However, it was interesting to hear that he also acknowledge the importance of apprenticeships.
“…the apprenticeship route, if you go to places like Germany, has equal stature with the four-year route. For every dollar we invest in apprenticeship, the return is something like $27 dollars.”
Today, there are several programs focused on apprenticeships for low income youth. However, in the case of Mexico, unlike other countries, we don´t have substantial data to acknowledge the amount of youth going through an apprenticeship program nor the impact its having.
Other areas of opportunity according to Heidi Shierholz, an Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is the health sector (nurses particularly), tech sector (software engineering & software development) and auditing jobs. And in relation to low wage jobs, she perceives growth in home health aides, food prep workers in restaurants and bars, child care workers, janitors, maids and housekeeping cleaners.
A proactive approach towards developing youth programs based on capacity building, taking into account what experts are anticipating as organizational needs, could become a well focused effort towards preventing poverty and unemployment for youth. In addition to this, it could be an interesting approach for institutionalized youth and youth at risk as well. If you want to work with me towards adapting your program, or need consulting on program development, don´t hesitate to contact me.