International Youth Day 2019

There’s nothing like a celebration of youth and all its potential to invigorate and inspire society and business.

With International Youth Day being marked around the world on 12th August, there is certainly plenty to celebrate and look forward to.

Marked by the UN General Assembly since 1999 and linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the day serves as “an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth”.

This year’s theme is “Transforming education” and highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all young people, including the efforts they are making themselves.

The theme is relevant to education, career development and business here in the UK, and is certainly something anyone involved in business should be considering.

Not so long ago, I was a trustee of Enterprise UK which set up the “Make your mark with a tenner” scheme (something that is now run by Young Enterprise), to showcase innovation and demonstrate how to bridge the divide between what people are learning in the classroom and how to apply that in a business environment.

The scheme challenges students to make as much profit as possible from £10, essentially getting them to set up a small business. Over a designated four-week period every year, students aged 11-19 are given a tenner and encouraged to get their ideas off the ground.

The reason I applaud these schemes and days such as International Youth Day is that they help prepare young people for the realities and challenges of starting a business, giving them practical experience and guidance for the realities of the world of work.

Today’s world of work is rapidly evolving, and it’s essential that young people understand its dynamic environment, with education reflecting the essential need to adapt to the changing nature of work.

This year’s theme for International Youth Day also reminds me of this year’s G20 YEA Summit. In May I travelled to Fukuoka, Japan with a delegation of 15 UK entrepreneurs for the Summit, which looked at how creative thinking is shaping the economy of the future in a sustainable way.

Summits and international days such as these remind us that we need to transform the way education works to truly make that switch from theory to practice and so grow the next generation of business leaders.

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