It was interesting to hear David Miliband calling this week for a new approach to address youth unemployment in Britain (as reported in the Guardian). He was speaking as chair of the commission that prepared a new report on the issue for ACEVO, the voluntary sector body.
Coincidentally, we’re in Washington this week working with our client, Education for Employment, that tackles youth unemployment in another part of the world, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where the issue has been a major factor in the Arab Spring. Youth unemployment was also a busy area of discussion in Davos last month.
While youth unemployment has different causes and implications in different parts of the world, there are some notable similarities between the solutions this new report proposes for the UK, and the way EFE works and has achieved success in MENA.
The Miliband report calls for localised education-to-career support for the non-university bound. EFE works through local affiliates (in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen) to provide young people there with the skills (often soft skills) they need to bridge the gap between education and employment.
The UK report calls for a part-time job guarantee for young people who have been on the work programme for a year without finding a job. EFE seeks guaranteed jobs for its young people, but does so by working with private sector businesses to identify the skills they are looking for, developing training programmes matched to these, and securing pre-committed jobs for those who go through the training.
The report calls for a new mentoring scheme for young people, by young people: where under-25s who have been in work for a year mentor others on their path to employment. EFE promotes an active alumni network, through which its graduates stay involved to help their successors.
Communication is critical to EFE’s success: communicating with employers to explain the business benefit of this approach to overcoming skills shortages, which can make it difficult to recruit despite high unemployment; communicating with young people to help them see a way over the barriers to employment that can appear insurmountable; and communicating with donors and other stakeholders to sell the benefits of what EFE does. Importantly, communications is also central to aligning the network of affiliate organisations behind a common vision and values. It’s a privilege to work with them on such an important issue.
Finally, we had some good news this week when the Holmes Report named us their Corporate Consultancy of the Year. They were kind enough to say that we have ‘consistently been on the cutting edge of corporate reputation management, creating campaigns that blur the lines between the converging corporate and consumer realms, focusing on storytelling, conversation, and thought leadership.’