Skip to main content

Business must help young people find jobs

By Klaus Schwab and Muhtar Kent
updated 11:03 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Klaus Schwab, Muhtar Kent: In Europe and elsewhere, many young people are jobless
  • Schwab, Kent: Unemployment is an acute crisis that needs our continuous attention
  • They say business leaders and governments should work together on this urgent problem
  • Schwab, Kent: For businesses, it's an opportunity since jobs leads to consumption

Editor's note: Klaus Schwab is founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. Muhtar Kent is chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company and chair of the World Economic Forum's International Business Council.

(CNN) -- Imagine a country where no one can find a job and everyone is younger than 25. This country, which exists as a diaspora, threatens the economic vitality, social fabric and long-term stability of much of the world. It is a country of lost potential.

In Europe, 24% of youth are unemployed. The numbers are particularly bad in Greece, Portugal and Italy. They are also bad in the Middle East and North Africa.

Unemployment is a slow-burning yet acute crisis that needs continuous attention from the world's businesses and governments.

Klaus Schwab
Klaus Schwab

The human cost is incalculable. Jobless young people struggle to become positive contributors to their families, communities and countries. Creating more job opportunities accelerates a virtuous cycle that boosts productivity and wages, reinforces a host of social virtues -- including greater stability, self-esteem, community commitment -- and decreases crime.

Muhtar Kent
Muhtar Kent

For business, the opportunity is great. Research indicates that for every 1 percentage point of sustained improvement in global youth employment, worldwide economic consumption increases by an estimated $72 billion per year.

We believe leaders in business, government and civil society should make a collaborative, concerted and cohesive effort to address unemployment with urgency in 2014. We've asked the 120 global CEOs who make up the World Economic Forum's International Business Council to join us in a new drive to reduce youth unemployment, starting this week at the Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos. One area with significant potential is education for and through employment, including developing function-specific and behavioral skills training programs that build experience, such as innovative internships and apprenticeships.

Mega rich to discuss inequality in Davos
Oxfam: $110 trillion owned by 85 people

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a wide and growing gap between the kinds of jobs available to new workers and the ability of young people to fill them.

According to a recent survey of employers in nine countries (Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States), only 43% of employers say they are able to find enough skilled entry-level workers.

Public-private cooperation in developing the work readiness of the young generation provides a clear opportunity to reduce youth unemployment.

For example, automobile manufacturers and suppliers across more than a dozen U.S. states are now training new workers in collaboration with 30-plus community colleges.

More employers are also turning to apprenticeships such as those that have long been successful in Germany, Austria and Switzerland -- three countries with traditionally low youth unemployment. In these countries, dual education systems combine study with work experience and their results are recognized by companies and governments alike.

Such dual education systems provide a promising path forward to young people without university degrees, create a next-generation workforce for business trained by specialists. These systems generally cost taxpayers less than training efforts initiated and funded wholly by government.

These efforts are also effective in developing countries. For instance, since 2009, the Coletivo (Collective) program -- a public-private partnership between companies, local government and NGOs -- has equipped thousands of young Brazilians with the skills needed to find jobs in retail, recycling, entrepreneurship and more, impacting more than 70,000 people in Brazilian communities.

In addition, global corporations can work with government and civil society to build entrepreneurship cultures inside and outside their organizations, empowering youth through training in behaviors and attitudes that will help them get things done throughout their lives, and boost employment and innovation.

The World Economic Forum's Global Shapers initiative is helping to create new ventures and jobs by connecting more than 3,000 of the world's brightest young entrepreneurs

With our International Business Council colleagues, we will be determining how to develop better data and local information on youth employment and replicate existing solutions more widely.

With many parts of the world still struggling to reinvigorate growth, concerted efforts to help young people prepare for the workforce can help our global economy.

We believe the time has come for international business leaders to act decisively to reduce youth unemployment and create a brighter future for all.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Klaus Schwab and Muhtar Kent.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT