Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the “Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit” in Silver Spring, Md. Organized by Making Cents International, the conference had 500 attendees from 16 countries. It was exciting to have Management & Training Corporation (MTC) (www.mtctrains.com) play a visible role in this conference, both though participation on panels and through being a sponsor.
Several MTC team members spoke about the challenges and opportunities faced by young people attempting to enter the workforce. They included Greg Niblett, the Vice President of MTC’s Economic & Social Development division, Bonnie Barhyte, Director of Programs, Diane Crosby, Director of Program Development, Mina Kamal, Career Guidance Advisor, Egypt Workforce Improvement & Skills Enhancement (WISE) project, Cairo, and Kamira Noreldin, National Project Officer with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Egypt and also formerly with MTC’s Egypt WISE project.
Key takeaways from the panel on MTC’s USAID funded project in Egypt (WISE), included:
· The importance of having a defined “transition from education to employment” program in order to ensure that the job seekers are trained in the skills actually needed by the local employers.
· The proven success of the WISE project’s “Start Your Journey” program, a five-week course that includes practical life management plans (such as how to deal with transportation and childcare needs) along with career counseling and actual on the job training with an identified mentor.
· The value of a specific program within an employer’s human resource department that makes plans to Recruit, Retrain & Retain (the 3 Rs) their employees. A key part of this is to make sure each employee is treated like he or she matters, has a voice at work, and that all people in a workplace are treated with respect.
Many speakers at this three-day conference addressed the need to find ways to build self-esteem in young people while they build their technical skills and move to the point of choosing a career. Youth from around the world shared stories of what made their local programs successful. Almost everyone spoke about the ongoing need for more funding of grassroots programs and the need to realize the work is difficult and can take a long time.
Lusanda Magwape, the Founder of the Dream Factory Foundation in South Africa (www.dreamfactoryfoundation.org), noted how important it is to not get discouraged while doing this important work. She said “Some of us sow. Some of us harvest. Don’t be afraid of failure; embrace it. Maybe your contribution was to sow the seeds of kindness, allowing others to complete the work.” Rhoda Ayieko, the Founder of Kibera Community Empowerment Organization (KCEO) in Kenya (www.kceo.org) spoke of the importance of being willing to fund grassroots organizations. Drawing on her experience helping disabled women in Nairobi become successful entrepreneurs, she noted that “grassroots groups have the local contacts and thus often have the opportunity to make the biggest impact.”
This was the 13thyear of this conference, sponsored by Making Cents International (www.makingcents.com). The conference was a highly interactive, global convening that allowed people to exchange ideas and build new partnerships to further develop economic opportunities for youth around the world.