NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 23- On Monday, November 23rd the CITI Foundation released Accelerating Pathways, a comparative framework of youth perceptions and their economic prospects around the world. The report, which was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the Citi Foundation, includes a novel Youth Economic Strategy Index which compares the 35 cities featured in the study across a wide set of indicators, and ranks the cities against these. An interactive database is also included that seeks to identify “which factors contribute most to an enabling economic environment for young people.”
Drawing upon surveys of 5,000 young people ages 18-25 across 35 cities, Accelerating Pathways assesses policies and conditions for youth based on four key categories: Government Support and Institutional Framework for Youth; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Education and Training; and Human and Social Capital. By focusing on these strategic areas, the report concluded “Improving opportunities for youth requires a multi-faceted approach, not a narrow set of policies.”
One surprising finding of the report is that Latin American youth, despite relatively low city rankings, are among the most optimistic for their future prospects, even outranking North America where formal institutions, access to finance, and skills training are more readily available. Latin American youth also expressed the highest level of interest in entrepreneurship, with 89% stating they want to work for themselves, and envision starting their own business.
The most pressing need identified by Accelerating Pathways is the skills mismatch or outright skills shortages linked to youth unemployment, which is on average 3.4 times higher for 15-24 year olds than for society as a whole. Unfortunately, low financial assistance for education and training, especially in Latin America, means vocational schools that serve as a key educational channel to build the skills necessary for starting a business or joining the workforce are out-of-reach for many young people.
The report was commissioned as part of Citi’s Pathways to Progress initiative which is also a driver of the Citi Foundation’s investment in Creando Tu Futuro (Creating Your Future) an innovative skills development program launched by GFI in 2015. The program was created in close partnership with Kuepa, an innovative Latin American education company that has delivered blended learning programs throughout Latin America, combining robust internet-based courses with classroom tutoring. Creando Tu Futuro is aimed at bringing practical “employability” training including technical and life skills knowledge to low income youth in Latin America. Through an innovative structure combining online learning with monthly in-person instruction including math, literacy, computer skills, personal finance, and other key tools, the central goal of the program is to empower youth with the necessary skills to pursue formal, secure employment while ultimately providing a foundation from which they can launch their personal future success. The program is currently being offered in Bogotá and Buenos Aires, two of the cities highlighted in the Accelerating Pathways report.
Learn more about Creando Tu Futuro.
by Twila Tschan