Generation Jobless? Turning the Youth Unemployment Crisis into Opportunity

‘Generation Jobless?’ uniquely explores the characteristics of both today's and tomorrow's youth and the causes of the youth unemployment crisis. The book takes a global, multi-stakeholder perspective to showcase proven solutions to tackle the crisis. Featuring interviews and input from various stakeholders, it offers a positive and constructive look at change by directing each group to become part of the solution and in particular youth to take on responsibility for themselves and their peers by turning into job creators rather than job seekers.

Book Review

Youth unemployment is one of the greatest challenges of our times. The recent economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s, has led to a disproportionate increase in youth unemployment around the world. Young people in both developed and developing economies are facing harsh labor market conditions. In 2014, more than 75 million young people were unemployed with even greater numbers not even showing up in these statistics because they either have dropped out of the system or because they have never entered it.

As a consequence, the reduction of youth unemployment is one of the major challenges governments are currently facing and will be facing for decades to come. If no suitable labor market incentives are identified, the result will be economic waste, an undermined social stability and a marginalization of the local workforce, a valuable resource for any country.

From the protesters of the Arab Spring or those in front of the Greek parliament to policymakers, international organizations, employers, entrepreneurs, media, parents to young people around the world; everyone is debating about the youth labor market crisis and how it can be resolved. Large-scale programs such as the €6 billion EU Youth Guarantee are being launched with everyone hoping for its’ success. However, what has become evident over the past years is that the youth labor market crisis is a difficult and multi-faceted issue that requires customized and nuanced solutions that take into account the diversity of the problem, because youth unemployment in one country may be the result of fundamentally different reasons that youth unemployment in another country.

The world we live in has become tremendously complex and interdependent. Hence, in order to solve the world’s most pressing issues such as the youth unemployment crisis, we need to implement multi-stakeholder solutions that span across sectors, geographies, philosophies, languages, races, religions and all other potentially imaginable barriers.

In ‘Generation Jobless?’ Peter Vogel uniquely explores the drivers and consequences of the current youth unemployment crisis and showcases over 100 solutions from around the world that have proven successful at tackling the issue. The book is structured into two parts. While part one (Chapters 1-3) focuses on the assessment of the crisis, the generational characteristics and traits, as well as an outlook of where the world of work is heading to (jobs and industries of the future), part two focuses on the solutions. Chapters 4-9 are centered around the different stakeholder groups involved in tackling youth unemployment and features a rich collection of thoughts, background information and case studies of proven solutions.

Throughout the book, Vogel takes a multi-stakeholder approach and showcases the wisdom of all the related stakeholder groups (cf., Figure below). More specifically, he consistently points out the importance of the inter-connectedness between each of the stakeholder groups. None of the groups alone can succeed at tackling the issue. It is only through the collective effort that we can do so.

Figure 1: Stakeholders involved in solving youth unemployment (©Vogel).

This book reflects an interesting combination of a profound and evidence-based analysis of the causes, drivers and consequences of the youth labor market crisis, and an aggregation of over 100 very actionable case studies that all follow a very similar pattern. Each organizational entity that is being featured addresses the same three questions:

  • What is it that your organization does to tackle youth unemployment?
  • How successful have you been at tackling youth unemployment? What are your KPIs?
  • What do you recommend other, similar organizations that want to follow your example?

This way of presenting each case study serves a very simple purpose: That whoever reads about it and seeks to get active in the fight against youth unemployment can do so by following the guidelines of each of the organization al examples. Peter Vogel’s approach of trying to build a movement around the many grassroot initiative that are out there is very inspiring and motivating.

As Vogel puts it in the concluding section of the book: “To have a large and lasting impact in the fight against youth unemployment, we must jump over our own shadows and start collaborating, sharing knowledge and best practices. This is not the time for egocentrism but one for a more balanced stance including altruism and collectivism – in the interest of our children. We must engage in an open dialogue to come up with and share the most suitable solutions to help today’s and tomorrow’s youth. We must act in a collaborative manner if we want to tackle youth unemployment. We must leverage the wisdom of the crowd and include as many individuals in the dialogue as possible. We must be ready to help others implementing similar solutions. Ultimately, we must take full responsibility for what is happening now and drive forward solutions as effectively and efficiently as possible to make sure that the world of tomorrow, the world we are leaving to our children, must remain a pleasant place to live on.”

Here is what some of the opinion leaders have to say

“Just as there is no shortage of work, there is equally no shortage of ideas. This book is full of them, and Peter Vogel’s display of them is impressive. The reader, at least this reader, left hopeful and solution-oriented, rather than wringing his hands, wondering whether anything could be done to turn generation jobless into generation jobfull”. Dr. Duncan Campbell, Director Global Mega-Trends Team, International Labour Organization

"Dr. Peter Vogel's work on tackling youth unemployment around the world is inspiring and an excellent read. His mission is mine, to lay out a blueprint for those with aspirations and great ideas, so that they can become job creators, wealth creators, and in certain cases, go from unemployed to self-employed." John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE

“Generation Jobless? is a wonderful read and primer for anyone who cares to make a difference. Truly the best work I have read on the youth labor market crisis – and a personal invitation to each and everyone of us to take part in solving the crisis for our children.” Carsten Sudhoff, Founder and CEO Circular Society AG

“How might we best prepare students for the world of work in the 21st century? This thorough and timely book about the youth unemployment crisis describes interesting possibilities from around the world.” Charles Fadel, co-author of “21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times” and visiting practitioner, Harvard University

“The world of work is transforming at a furious, unprecedented pace, and young people are the ones that are hit hardest. This is a truly powerful book that gives us hope that it is not too late to avoid a generation jobless.” Mike Johnson, Chairman & Founder of the Futurework Forum and author of “The Worldwide Workplace: Solving the Global Talent Equation”

“Unemployment is casting a shadow over the lives of millions of young people around the world and solutions are complex, requiring the aligned action by multiple stakeholders. In this important and fascinating book Peter Vogel takes a positive and uplifting view of what it takes for a crisis to become an opportunity. Drawing on examples from across the world, he shows how education, government and employees can each play their part.” Prof. Dr. Lynda Gratton, London Business School and author of the book 'The Shift'

“This is the best assessment and discussion of the current youth unemployment crisis that I have read. It is tremendously rich in content and insightful. Peter Vogel walks the extra mile to actually discuss the most essential part of all: solutions to youth unemployment! I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the future of our children.” Melinda Emerson, "SmallBizLady"; America’s #1 small business expert; author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months

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