How do You Train Youth for Jobs of the Future? (by Joe Furino and Gretchen Zucker)
"The number of new businesses setting up shop in our state is up four percent from last year. So why isn’t the unemployment gap closing faster? More than 225,000 workers in the Commonwealth are still unemployed.
What’s the disconnect? If more businesses – and jobs – are moving into the state, then why can’t unemployed workers fill those roles and bring our unemployment rate down faster?
Our workforce’s skill sets don’t match the jobs we’re creating. Employers, from tech to retail to healthcare, profess the skills most needed on their teams are entrepreneurship, problem solving, teamwork, leadership and empathy. But job seekers – students and professionals alike – often haven’t had the opportunity to cultivate and hone those skills.
A study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst titled, “Workforce Skills and the Changing Knowledge Economy in Massachusetts” examines the link between educational requirements and occupational growth in the state. While emerging technologies have been a key economic driver in Massachusetts, the skills most highly associated with expanding fields are not just science and math. Instead, the state’s fastest-growing jobs, according to the report, require high levels of social, interpersonal, learning and critical-thinking skills.
And, when you consider we are training students for jobs that don’t yet have titles, to work with technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems we don’t even know exist, it’s no wonder some teachers have found skills taught in high schools may be irrelevant, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. It’s the softer skills, not the tactical or technical, that will best prepare students to lead and innovate.
While many have been talking about this disconnect, the good news is that the worlds of business, not-for-profit, government and academia have started to come together to build those skills among our workforce. Take Philips, for example. With more than 4,000 employees in Massachusetts, Philips looks for individuals who share a passion for improving lives and matches them with roles where they can directly apply their personal interests, ideas, and skills to contribute to innovations that make the world healthier and more sustainable.
Philips has partnered with Ashoka’s Youth Venture to create a pipeline of “changemakers” – driven, entrepreneurial problem solvers, who have the ideas, leadership, empathy and team skills to create new opportunities and respond to threats. On April 6, the two organizations will bring together some of the brightest college students in Massachusetts for the Philips – Youth Venture “Be A Changemaker Bootcamp” on Boston University’s campus. The bootcamp will focus on social venture creation and the development of changemaker skills that can be applied toward a successful career.
Programs like this stand to boost employment rates and in turn drive the local economy, the innovation economy, and ultimately the global economy by delivering passionate, social-minded and skilled leaders for the future who not only will find gainful employment but will solve some of the most important issues we face."
Editor's Note: This article is written by Joe Furino who is Senior Manager for Campus Recruiting at Philips North America and Gretchen Zucker who is the Executive Director of Ashoka Youth Venture.