The Power Of Youth: Youth unemployment and skills acquisition in times of crisis

My name is Hubert Put, I’m from Poland and my background is in energy engineering. This year, I became a member of Youthwise, the OECD’s youth advisory board, which I joined to give a youth perspective on issues connected with the energy transition and housing. Banner image: Shutterstock/Terelyuk

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The OECD's Power of Youth series 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 Hubert Put, I’m from Poland and my background is in energy engineering. This year, I became a member of Youthwise, the OECD’s youth advisory board, which I joined to give a youth perspective on issues connected with the energy transition and housing. Like many of my peers I am interested in the welfare and employment prospects of young people, so it was a pleasure to attend Youth Week at the OECD—and the "Investing in Youth" event in particular—which tackled these subjects.

What did you want to be when you were younger and what do you do now?

When I was a high school student, I wanted to become an economist. Then, I changed my mind completely and applied for an engineering degree with a more technical career in mind. Currently, I am an Energy Market Analyst so, in a way, I combined my goals from high school and university to make them a reality.

Which OECD data point or trend that you find particularly interesting on youth x recovery? Please explain why it stands out to you.

For me, one of the most interesting data points is the one depicting unemployment rates by age groups for OECD countries. We clearly see the employment gap between 15-24 year-olds and 25-74 year-olds, to the older group’s advantage of course. Furthermore, one can notice that the job market is far more volatile for young people during times of crisis. Between Q4 2007 and Q4 2009, the difference in unemployment rose by 5.24 percentage points for young people and 2.55 percentage points for people aged 25-74—and a similar trend can be observed for the year 2020. Interestingly, I feel the COVID-19 recovery is taking place far more rapidly for 15-24 year-olds than for the older group, which gives hope to all youth.

What is the most striking take-away from the panel conversation you attended during Youth week?

One of the panel conversations I attended during Youth Week was “Investing in Youth”. I believe that the most striking and well-thought conclusions were the ones from Stuart Robert, Australian Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. He underlined that we need to rethink the discussion about skills acquisition, the education system and quality of training. This is something I entirely agree with, as in my opinion many education systems are still stuck in 20th century. Rather than educating, they just produce employees suited for a now-outdated job market.

Tell us about one youth-led initiative—either one that you work on, or another—that you find particularly inspiring.

Once upon a time, I was studying at the InnoEnergy Master’s School. During my time there, I met many highly motivated people wanting to make a change in the energy sector and involve youth in the energy transition; ultimately, they founded the European Youth Energy Network. Its mission is to place young people at the heart of the European energy transition, empower energy-focused youth organisations—connecting them with each other and with key actors in the sector—and share knowledge at European and national levels. I am extremely happy to be part of this initiative and connect with people from other youth organisations such as YES-Europe on our shared path towards mainstreaming sustainability.

Interested in exploring more of the OECD’s work on employment, the impact of AI on the labour market and green jobs? Register to attend the OECD High Level Employment Policy Forum!

Register to attend the OECD High Level Employment Policy Forum!

Find out more about the OECD's Power of Youth project

Find out more about the OECD's Power of Youth project

Related Topics: 

Future of Education & Skills Future of Work Tackling COVID-19 Climate SDGs

Hubert Put

Energy Markets Analyst; OECD Youthwise Member, OECD