YouthCan! Mentoring Young People To A Sustainable Future
YouthCan!, a global mentoring program, has been officially launched in the Philippines through an online event last August 12, 2021. The event coincides with International Youth Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about issues youths face globally. And what better way to do that than inviting youths and stakeholders to speak up and discuss these concerns.
Present in the event are representatives from the government, various organizations, youths, and corporate leaders. The event made way for a holistic discussion of the country’s growing concerns regarding youth unemployability and how we can collectively help provide a sustainable solution.
The Challenge our Youths Face
According to World Bank’s data, only 63.3% of the Filipino working population are participating in the labor force. This, as mentioned by SOS Children’s Villages Philippines Board Chairman Mel Senen Sarmiento, is a strong indicator of the need to increase employability. Capacitating more Filipinos is needed to grow the economy.
Especially amidst the pandemic, the young working population has been greatly affected. Businesses in the hospitality and retail sector suffered waves of retrenchment and total halt of operations. These industries are where most young people’s livelihood depended on, shared Anup Tiwari, SOS Children’s Villages Philippines Representative to the International Office. And according to him, equipping youths with as many employable skills as possible is one way of ensuring that they can meet the demands of a constantly changing world.
With more than 1.16 million unemployed Filipino youths, as stated by Department of Labor and Employment Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay, there is an urgent need to address this concern.
How Youth-Focused Initiatives Can Help
Youthcan! is the bridge that connects industry experts to disadvantaged youths. Since its global launch in 2017, YouthCan! has linked youths to professional mentors who helped them learn essential skills as they prepare for their future careers.
YouthCan! Global Project Manager Cristina Soreanu reported that there are up to 6,500 youths participants from 37 countries who currently benefit from the program. During her speech, Cristina also recalled the difficulties she faced while looking for her first job. According to her, the lack of guidance and experience and the highly competitive market made for a huge challenge in her first job-seeking experience. Thankfully, the support she received from her family, friends, and mentors helped her find success. But what about those who grew up in alternative care settings?
“But imagine how difficult this is for young people who cannot rely on their family for support, savings, networks. This is the reality of young people living in alternative care or in families at risk, the young people supported by SOS Children’s Villages. For the young people we support, securing a job is not only their entry into the labour market or their contribution to the economy, but also a first step to get out of a vicious circle of poverty, a first sign of hope.” - Cristina Soreanu, YouthCan! Global Project Manager
What do the young people need?
As part of the preparation for the YouthCan! launch, SOS youths were asked to participate in a needs assessment survey. The survey results show that our youths are interested to learn a variety of soft and hard skills. Table 1 shows the leading soft skills where mentors and learning sessions are most needed. It includes teamwork, self-motivation, and communication skills, which were in the top 3.
Meanwhile, Table 2 shows the hard skills our youths wish to gain more knowledge and experience. The survey results provide valuable insight into how we can provide adequate support to our youths.
What We Can Do for our Youths
Creating long-term positive impact is and has always been a community effort. The YouthCan! movement requires collective action to reach its goal of helping disadvantaged youths transition from school to decent work.
Through a plenary discussion between youths and corporate leaders, our youths were able to voice their concerns and receive assurance of cooperation from stakeholders. There to answer the youth's questions were AmCham Philippines Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe, ANZCham Philippines Corporate Consultant Bradley Norman, NordCham Philippines President Bo Lundqvist, and Binhi Philippines’ Managing Partner Mao Evalle. All have expressed their intent to promote the YouthCan! program to their respective affiliated group of companies.
Industry leaders readily responded to the questions of our youths
The youths were able to take home inspiring career and life advice from the discussion. Ronnie, an SOS youth and co-host of the event, shared that it touched her heart to know that youths like her are not forgotten. She’s happy to hear that they’re not alone in this challenge; they have their uncles and aunties to reach out to and learn from. Through the YouthCan! program, she’s excited to grow and be the best version of herself.
Industry leaders, youths, and event hosts gathered for a quick virtual picture taking.
This coming October, the YouthCan! Philippines team expects the mentoring sessions to commence via the YouthLinks 2.0 platform. In the meantime, we are inviting interested corporations to join the YouthCan! movement and add to our growing bunch of volunteer-mentors. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank HSBC Philippines and FactSet Philippines, who have expressed their strong commitment to supporting this youth-focused program. Their employees will be among the first batch of volunteer-mentors to the youths of SOS Children’s Villages Philippines.
As International Labour Organization Country President Khalid Hassan stated, decent work is at the heart of sustainable development. And unless decent work is at the heart of policies and programs, the youth employment challenge will remain as it is. Therefore, it is up to us to help shape our youth’s future. With the resources we have, we can do something. And when we invest in our youths, our country will surely reap all the rewards.