How can businesses best support youth employability in light of the trends we are seeing around the future of work?

This live written panel discussion explored how businesses can best support youth employability in light of the trends we are seeing around the future of work.


LIVE Panel

Thursday 8th June, 10am to 11am EDT / 3pm to 4 pm BST | (AddEvent)


Businesses have long been supporting youth employability by providing young people with opportunities for learning, skill development, and hands-on experience through internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. Businesses have been investing in programmes that help young people build soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, but with the explosion of generative AI - what are the implications for the future of work and how can business respond to support young people? Some businesses are working with educational institutions and government organisations to help ensure that young people are receiving the education and training they need to succeed in the changing job market. With the world of work moving at such a pace, how can we better help young people and those early in their careers keep up?

Join this conversation to explore these questions and more


  • Leonora Barclay, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Olouch Brendah, Aspire Institute Ambassador
  • Ina Castro,Learning Planet
  • Justin Cheng, Learning Planet
  • Lorraine Charles, Executive Director/Co-Founder, Na’amal
  • Abir Chowdhury, Development Consultant
  • Sandra Fontano, Senior Global Sustainability Manager for Social Equity, Unilever
  • Oliver Furechi, Practical Action
  • Chioma Izuwah, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Ruphin Kungwa, Uganda, Refugee and Volunteer, & Learning Planet
  • Shodigul Mamadyorbekova, Rural Development Advisor, Tajikistan
  • Flora von Michel, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Haron Muturi Wake and Shine SHG, Junior Leader, Tharaka Nithi, Kenya
  • Gift Mwaka, Livelihoods and Education Programme Manager, Restless Development
  • Sherif Muçalla, Researcher
  • Anita Tiessen, CEO Youth Business International
  • Moses Wamari, Decent Work Researcher, The Youth Cafe

Moderator: Katie Hyson Business Fights Poverty


  1. How can businesses (and their partners) best support young people in light of the trends we’re seeing in the future of work, including the impact of generative AI?
  2. What are the best examples of businesses taking action on youth employability?
  3. How can we better work together to better support youth employability, early careers in light of these trends?


This is a text-based discussion which remains open, so please do continue to share your insights.

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Hello and welcome today to our discussion - if we can start by inviting you to introduce yourself please

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Hi Everyone. I’m Anita Tiessen, CEO at Youth Business International which leads a growing global network of 50 enterprise support organisations with a passion for empowering underserved young people (18-35) to start, scale and sustain their businesses. In our discussion, I will focus on the role of entrepreneurship in building youth employability and how businesses can support young people to succeed as entrepreneurs.


Hi everyone, my name is Ina Castro. I’m a Learning Planet Youth Fellow. I’m also a graduate nurse. This topic really interests me because I also advocate for Youth Development and Growth. I cannot wait for this engaging discussion :slight_smile:

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Hi Everyone. Oliver Furechi here, Project Manager - Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihood project at Practical Action in Kenya.

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Hi everyone, I am Lorraine Charles, Executive Director and Founder of Na’amal

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Hi everyone. I’m Leonora Barclay, a communications professional specialising in corporate social responsibility, including youth employability. I’m passionate about amplifying opportunities for young people starting their careers so am excited for this discussion!


***Hello, our first questions today:

Businesses and their partners have a crucial role in supporting young people amidst the evolving landscape of work. To address the impact of generative AI and other emerging trends, here are some key strategies:

Contextually invest in digital literacy programs: Equip young people with the necessary digital skills and literacy to navigate the changing work environment effectively. However, this investment should be supplemented with contextual relevance where there is an actual understanding, preferably from first-hand information transfer, from the youth.


Businesses have a tendency to focus on training and upskilling their own people. We think this misses an opportunity to look outside themselves too, and explore how they can support young entrepreneurs in their sphere of influence and in their ecosystem. There are certainly ways that business can make a difference to young entrepreneurs by creating opportunities in this way.


Foster mentorship and apprenticeship/internship programs: Provide opportunities for young individuals to learn from experienced professionals and gain practical skills that align with future job demands. This is in response to the fact that a lot of young people simply do not know what professional options exist for them nor do they know how to access these opportunities.


The nature of the jobs is changing very fast and in fact it is estimated that over 1 billion jobs will be disrupted in the next five years. Companies need to help young people to upskill to cope with these changes and continue being relevant and competitive at the workplace. Companies can invest in reskilling programs to fully optimize its core resource which is human resources, a majority of whom are young people especially in developing countries.


Linked to Oliver’s comment: Embrace lifelong learning: Encourage continuous upskilling and reskilling initiatives that enable young workers to adapt to technological advancements and new work requirements.


Interesting comments above. There is a big overlap between the skills young people need for the employment market and as entrepreneurs - from soft to hard skills, and wider mentoring, networks and so forth, Thinking more flexibly, within and outside of business could make a big impact


For many young people, a lack of knowledge about particular industries is a key factor holding them back, particularly if they are from a disadvantaged background and lack access to opportunities for work experience or careers advice. Schemes such as mentoring and internships are key for young people to learn more about potential career paths as well as how to gain the skills and experience needed to thrive in these areas.

For trends such as AI, this is where access to mentors and professional networks is key - by getting early insights into how these trends affect the workplace and how businesses are responding, young people can develop their skills and careers with these challenges and solutions in mind. Businesses should support young people in accessing networking and mentoring opportunities as well as work experience, so the workforce of tomorrow are equipped to hit the ground running and address trends such as AI.


First off, it is important to note that the status of youth unemployment in each country may differ in each one considering that each country is at different levels when targeting this issue. We can target solutions well if we clearly assess the situation and specific challenges concerning youth employment specific to their region. Next, businesses should be able to start within themselves. They should be able to recognize the presence of youth within their working systems and allow opportunities to incorporate or empower youth voices. In relation, The Department for Education in the United Kingdom (2011) suggested the importance of changing attitudes within the workplace to further support young people. Alongside, it was emphasized by The Department for Education in the United Kingdom (2011), that businesses should be able to create more engaging youth projects and be able to donate for youth causes. Businesses that invest on youth projects pave ways to build the skill set of young individuals however businesses must also consider how it would positively impact youth if they would donate for youth causes. Support towards the youth could be achieved if businesses learn to open their doors to youth’s needs and not merely be fixated with only the company’s current demands. They should consider offering young people use of their buildings and facilities, educating their staff to work with children and youth, creating internship programs, and contributing their business knowledge and assistance to social enterprises.


The role of businesses in supporting young people


Responses from our community member Flora von Michel who cannot make the live session today but who wanted to ensure her insights were shared:

  • Equality and Inclusion should be a policy, not a choice in any given recruitment process. This should include minority groups and individuals from less fortunate backgrounds, as well as young people that are hindered by visas, seeking to live and work in the UK. This, again, should entail national policymaking to align with businesses, such as by giving them more power and accessibility to sponsor individuals for visas. It is common for employers to have to turn down their first choice as they are not authorised to hire and sponsor their visa due to the complexity of the legal procedure.
  • Create a collaborative pool of recruiters, such as a space of communication between businesses looking to recruit in similar industries. As hundreds of younger applicants are rejected for any given role, the closer fits could be recommended and passed onto a different business that they may align with more closely. This would be an easier way for younger people to become visible within the so-called “hidden job market” where the vast majority of job opportunities are only accessible via networking.
  • Collaborate with educational or professional institutions to provide employees with up-to-date training and resources on the development of digital tools and IA. This includes awareness of how to proof-check the credibility of sources from Chat GTP and the internet. For instance, a lot of media coverage is raising questions on the risk of IA generated imagery becoming increasingly convincing. INGO’s should be the most concerned with these risks.
  • Collaborating with Universities in providing programmes, guidance, talks, mentorship, networking opportunities etc. This would not only be an effective but also preventative approach to the overwhelming post-graduate experience young people go through when applying to their first jobs.
  • Emphasize creativity and critical thinking. The need for such skills will increase over time as AI tools allow complacency in an increasing number of roles, and potentially reducing the number of job opportunities. Businesses can encourage these skills through creative projects, innovative challenges, and cross-functional teamwork.
    ^ especially within recent discussions of cover letters and essays becoming a less effective evaluation methods due to us of IA, application processes could nurture more creative and flexible assessments in interviews and application processes.
  • Run Internship training programmes. Young people struggle when they come straight out of academia and lack the professional experience that almost every job asks for. While that may seem risky for employers, preferring individuals that come with years of experience, young people tend to bring the most enthusiasm as they dive into the professional whelm, bringing new ideas, an alternative outlook, and a wider knowledge of today´s online trends– making them a good investment for businesses.

Mentoring is so important!


I completely agree - having a mentor and access to work experience can be transformative in helping young people decide on a career path and develop the skills they need.

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Promote agile work models: Embrace flexible work arrangements and remote work options that cater to the preferences and needs of the younger workforce. This entails more than simple advertising, it also means developing infrastructure around fair and timely compensation, making sure employees have the digital tools to perform the work and creating business-policy that caters to remote work. It also means that companies and leadership need to adapt the way they are run and organised to accommodate remote working arrangements. Remote working also provides an opportunity for youth who don’t live in global capitals and even in the Global North to have access to greater work opportunities.

Collaborate with educational institutions: Forge partnerships with universities, colleges, and vocational training centres to ensure that education aligns with industry needs and prepares young people for future job roles.