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Date: 22.4.2021
Categories: MSP in Practice

Partnering for Youth Employment and Empowerment

Picture: Unsplash/ heylagostechie

The 2021 YouthCan! Global Conference

Partnering was a central theme throughout this four-day virtual conference in which youth, partners and staff involved in SOS Children’s Village YouthCan! program came together from all around the world to talk about achieving their goals together. 

“YouthCan!” is a global partnership that supports young people who have lost parental care or are at risk of losing it to successfully transition from school to decent work and independent life. In this joint effort between SOS Children’s Villages and private sector partners, employees are mobilized to share their time, skills, expertise and own career stories both online and offline.

Guiding day three of this year’s Youth Can! Global Conference was the question: How do we collaborate for greater good? As Ingrid Johansen, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages highlighted: it is only through working in partnerships that YouthCan! can achieve lasting and meaningful impact in the lives of young people. In the panel “Empowering young people to become their strongest self” discussants highlighted not only the considerable challenges youth are facing in entering the labour market, but also what needs to be done to overcome said challenges. Kevin Frey, CEO of Generation Unlimited, underlined that youth employment is a problem no one can tackle on their own therefore everyone needs to be at the table, including youth.

What can these partners bring to the table? Frank Appel, CEO of DPDHL Group highlighted that companies can do so much more than just bringing in money to the partnership by leveraging the expertise and creating opportunities through their company for the young people. This was echoed in the following panel discussion “Reaching the goal together: Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships”. Myriem Tamimy, Country Director for Morocco and Tunisia, Janssen said it was through employees contributing their skills that they really engaged with YouthCan! and were able to see what contributions they were making. She also spoke to the importance of having different partners on board: While one company may be only able to offer mentoring services, another can provide internships. When combined, these contributions can fully serve the many different needs of the youth. Not just the number, but the quality of partners is important. Mikhail Krivonos, Co-founder of RAOUL Charity Foundation made the point avoid brining in “free-riders” to the partnership as what YouthCan! is providing is high quality programming for youth necessary to effectively address their needs. This high quality is not a static thing, but instead requires innovation, which is possible when co-creating in a partnership, thereby adding value to the partnership.

To realize the synergies and innovation through partnership requires good collaboration practices. Therefore, in her closing statement, Susanne Salz, Head of Project of Partnerships2030 asked participants moving forward to keep in mind the question: How does YouthCan! want to collaborate? Participants reflected on this question in the final session of the day: A workshop in which recommendations and experiences were shared about good partnering practices. YouthCan! is already working as a partnership but wants to further develop its capacities to work with multiple stakeholders, bringing them all together to jointly learn and decide how to best achieve common goals. Partnerships2030 is working with YouthCan! to see how they can create more synergies between partners and YouthCan! countries, and ultimately improve everyone’s ability to meet the needs of young people.