YEO 2030, an initiative established by Making Cents International, recently hosted its first virtual, invitation-only Regional Convening on January 26-27. The two-day event brought together key stakeholders in the youth economic opportunities (YEO) sector to collectively reflect on what we have learned from YEO 2030 events, such as the Youth Dialogues and Solution Webinars, and to brainstorm solutions to challenges identified by youth as immediate barriers to employment.
Both days started with Youth Pre-session Workshops in which young leaders ages 18-30 met to network, share experiences, and find common ground with one another on topics such as employability, familial responsibilities, and the role the pandemic played in unemployment. Young leader and Alumni Coordinator for LALA Brazil, Ronaldo Raposo, found these conversations inspirational, relatable, and necessary.
“I was taken back to the beginning of my college [career] when I needed to move out to a new town, pursuing a dream of being the first generation [to graduate] in my family. How [would] I handle university? Personal costs? Survival expenses? And, also help [my family back] home?” he shared. “It is quite easy to drop [out]. We might say, ‘that is not for me.’ But it is – … so, we do need to fight for it, saving time to work, study, and help our relatives. How [do we] deal with so many responsibilities?”
One thing Ronaldo was sure about was his generation’s ability to help find solutions to tough employment and livelihood challenges. “I may have left those sessions with more questions than answers, but that is exactly what makes our generation special: we question everything. And by doing it, we start looking for answers—and we do not rest 'til we [get] them,” he added.
YEO 2030 stakeholders agree that young people are key to finding achievable solutions to making progress towards SDG 8 and decent work for all and have placed youth voice and engagement as the keystone of the initiative. Young leaders were included in the Regional Convening not only as participants, but also as keynote speakers, facilitators, and emcees. The Convening used the adopted 17 Rooms methodology that divides attendees into “solution rooms” or working groups to identify tangible actions that address key challenges and can be achieved over the next 12-18 months.
Discussions were divided into three themes, with two solution rooms per thematic area: Ready for the Global Workforce (skills mismatch, green jobs/climate), Livelihoods Through Self-Employment (social entrepreneurship, financing for youth), and Global Context Matters (ecosystem coordination/collaboration, youth voice/inclusion). On Day 1, the six rooms were presented with key issues identified as barriers to employment from the Youth Dialogues and Solutions sessions. Led by youth facilitators, participants were tasked with brainstorming the issues and prioritizing the top three. On Day 2, the solution rooms combined by thematic area engaged in a lively discussion on issues and emerging themes. Each of the three rooms had to reach consensus on issues they wanted to focus on going forward and on corresponding calls to action for each. For example, stakeholders in the Ready for the Global Workforce room agreed that if we want to engage young people in green jobs and encourage youth to seek solutions, we need to add green perspectives to early assessments for different types of projects.
In the coming weeks, actionable items like these will be refined with participants, then used to identify champions who will lead specific activities and report on progress to advance achievement of SDG 8. This will represent part of a broader call to action at the upcoming Global YEO Summit in May.
Participants were also treated to a sneak peek of the new YEO 2030 Ecosystem Map. The interactive mapping tool highlights global stakeholders operating in the YEO ecosystem so that youth-led and youth-serving organizations can identify opportunities for collaboration and coordinating bodies can see gaps and areas of overlap.
Stay tuned to YEO2030.org for details about upcoming YEO 2030 activities, including the Global YEO Summit in May. To learn more about the barriers to employment youth face, download a free copy of the Youth Dialogues Report Synopsis. To obtain the full report, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional reporting by Ronaldo Raposo