This article, first published in January 2022, is part of the OECD's Power of Youth series, which showcases the perspectives and experiences of young people who are shaping the future. Exploring topics from gender equality and education to climate and careers, the series gives a voice to young advocates and activists who we met in different events, as well as members of Youthwise, the OECD's youth advisory board. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us rise to this critical challenge, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
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My name is Carlos Sentís, Founder and CEO of the World Innovation Alliance (WIA) and board member at JEUNE, the Young Entrepreneurs Organization of the European Union. I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of JEUNE at the Stand by Youth initiative inauguration day, joining the discussion around how businesses can create opportunities for youth in the post-COVID world; and to act as MC and moderator at the OECD Youth Week session on how businesses can mobilise young entrepreneurs for the recovery.
What did you want to be when you were younger and what do you do now?
I have wanted to work on technology and social impact since the beginning of my career as an intern in an online newspaper, but I knew that, at the time, I didn't have the capacity, skills, experience, resources or network to make any meaningful contributions in those fields.
After a decade working as a consultant in strategy, communication and international relations for large public and private organisations, I founded the World Innovation Alliance to create and implement scalable solutions to improve and expand access to education, health and economic development.
With a network of more than 1,000 multidisciplinary experts from 150 different countries, we help governments and companies to maximise growth, resource optimisation and positive impact through consulting, training, public affairs, technology and multi-stakeholder project development.
Besides my role as CEO of WIA, I also currently serve on the International Development Board of the World Humanitarian Forum and as Presidential Advisor at JEUNE - Young Entrepreneurs Organization of the European Union. I am also a lecturer in several Universities and Business Schools and a speaker on technology, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, education innovation, entrepreneurship and the future of jobs.
Which OECD data point or trend that you find particularly interesting on youth x recovery? Please explain why it stands out to you.
I think “Digital skills needed across a wide variety of jobs” is particularly interesting because it sheds light on the most relevant skills that youth need to master in order to prosper in the post-COVID economy.
More than 2 billion people are expected to need upskilling or reskilling to meet the demands from a job market where 50% of jobs are at risk of radical transformation due to technological disruption, economic and social transformation.
In this context, lifelong learning becomes more critical than ever, and learning practical skills—digital or otherwise—is as important as theoretical knowledge and understanding of the world.
I consider this graph especially relevant because most of the skills that appear in it are extremely important for almost everyone, regardless of their career path. However, most people never get the chance of acquiring them in the formal education path, which puts them in a very vulnerable position.
Effective, universal training on these skills (including communication, planning, problem solving, project, time, people and budget management, general sales, presentation skills, technological skills or building effective relationships) is one of the keys to reducing unemployment and sustaining economic growth in the coming decade.
Digital skills are needed across a wide variety of jobs
What is the most striking take-away from the panel conversation you attended during Youth week?
The biggest take-away for me was the extraordinary commitment from leaders in the public and private sectors to support youth; the emergence of an increasingly predominant position of youth in the narrative shaping the post-COVID recovery; and the agreement on the importance of taking bold steps towards a more inclusive political and social agenda, empowering youth to co-create sustainable development for all.
I saw great potential for integration and collaboration between different stakeholders, and the need for an even greater determination to find and implement innovative models where companies, governments, third sector actors and academia can partner to provide effective solutions for social problems and improve citizens lives, with special attention to the youth and the most vulnerable communities.
Tell us about one youth-led initiative—either one that you work on, or another—that you find particularly inspiring.
If not inspiring, probably the most useful initiative we are working on right now—led by and developed in big part by young entrepreneurs and changemakers—is the Improve Project. It is a global action plan to provide free upskilling programmes on well-being, impact, prosperity and technology, and foster connections to create direct opportunities for economic development.
As part of the initiative, we create and curate practical education materials to help people of any age and any socioeconomic background to improve their mental and physical health, learn skills to find a job or launch their own entrepreneurial ventures, make the most out of new technologies and maximise the positive impact they can make.
To ensure that we improve the lives of as many people as possible with the initiative, we are working on the “Improve Yourself, Improve the World” global communication and call-to-action campaign. It has been designed to share the “Skills for Growth” programme for free and foster valuable citizen engagement, reaching more than 200 million people in 100 different countries through media partnerships, social media challenges, celebrity endorsements, influencer marketing, events, cultural activities and sports competitions.
Find out more about the OECD's Power of Youth project
|Future of Education & Skills||Future of Work||Tackling COVID-19|