people between the ages of fifteen and twenty four are out of work in North
America and Europe at the moment. Italy and France have 25% youth unemployment
while, in Spain, 45% of the young people are jobless. At these levels, there is
grave potential for structural unemployment, giving rise to fears for a “lost
generation.” Fronesys has been discussing these issues with the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF).
This note explores the challenge of structural
unemployment among youth, and asks if the opportunities afforded by technology,
such as social, mobile, cloud and big data, may provide an avenue by which
these young people may find viable economic and social engagement.
unemployment is currently very high, but another key problem is that young
people are likely to be the last to find employment after the recession.
Research indicates that prolonged periods of unemployment can have lasting
effects on career prospects, as skills and education quickly become dated.
has created many new types of jobs, some jobs will never return. Secretaries,
file clerks, book-keepers, telephone operators and bank tellers – scores of
such white-collar jobs have been rendered nearly extinct by the introduction of
intelligent technology. Many companies produce as much as before, or more, with
fewer people, thanks to a focus on efficiency, which often replaces expensive, less
reliable humans with cheap, consistent machines.
There are a
number of reasons why we might be interested in youth unemployment, and ask if
there are drivers for change.
Thanks to the
Internet, which provides a global medium for collaboration, and an
unprecedented level of social connectivity, businesses, governments and
society-at-large have powerful new tools for reinventing institutions around a
new set of organising principles for the 21st century. These tools
are built around the confluence of the tech mega trends: mobile, social, cloud
and big data.
The nature of
business and work itself is changing. The key differentiator between old and
new business models is networked collaboration, a profoundly new approach in
orchestrating capability to innovate, create goods and services, and solve
problems. Social networking could morph
into social production, where self-organising groups of peers can design and make
products and services, and tackle major societal problems.
Middle East, the so-called Arab Spring is an example of networked collaboration
across millions of young Arabs which led to the toppling of decades-old
dictatorships. We have only begun to tap into the potential of networked
collaboration. Technology can enable engagement at all levels, from improving local
public services, to online peer education, to internationally-coordinated
action on climate change. Technology has the potential to transcend
geographical, social and cultural boundaries to bring new opportunities for
young people to engage in business and society.
“lost generation” is composed of digital natives with skills that could be
helpful to regions where the digital economy is only just beginning to take
root, such as Africa.
How should the
ICT industry respond?
- Can the
power of networked collaboration enable more people from more regions of the
world to connect, collaborate and compete on a global stage?
young digital natives build these opportunities if they are not actually in
employment at the time?
the power of networked collaboration offer them the means to engage
meaningfully economically today, while driving the entire global economy towards
more distributed forms of business?
- Does entrepreneurship create a different dynamic from employment? Will this generation of digital natives want to be entrepreneurs instead of employees?
The ICT industry
provides the technological basis for networked collaboration, so it has a
unique opportunity to take the initiative in enabling this “lost generation” to
engage; this may even be a growth opportunity waiting to be exploited.
a responsible, proactive framework look like in this context? We suggest it
- Understanding the way in which lateral business
ventures, covering social commons and marketplace, compete with the traditional
- Understanding, and engaging with, stakeholder
expectations, including those from government, NGOs and business leaders
- Exploring ways in which “lost generation” output
could be used to further the introduction of the digital economy into places
where it is currently nascent, such as Africa.
Want to talk further? Get in touch.