YCI - A global framework building responsible business leadership in local communities

The Youth Career Initiative is providing a fresh start for young people in twelve countries. Find out how this innovative approach helps combat global youth unemployment, and how your sector could become part of the solution.

A part of Business in the Community since October 2013, the International Tourism Partnership’s Youth Career Initiative (YCI) is taking its partnership model to the next level, providing more innovative high impact approaches to combat youth unemployment worldwide. Taking the existing framework and engaging new sectors opens up new scope for impact and opportunities for a more diverse set of pioneering partners

Global youth unemployment and the poverty trap

Nowadays, with the global youth unemployment crisis, young people face considerable barriers to finding work. According to the ILO, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and approximately 73 million are out of work. The longer young people stay out of work, the greater the downward spiral and the harder it will be for them to find a job. In many cases, they lack the skills that employers are looking for, particularly in developing countries.

YCI provides its students with transferable life and work skills that make them employable as well as empower them to make career choices and positive life decisions. In the last six weeks, the Youth Career Initiative celebrated six graduations across three countries. These ceremonies mark the end of a 24-week period of intensive learning. They also mean a fresh start for a very particular group of 138 bright young people who count amongst some of the most disadvantaged youth in the locations where the programme operates.

Candidates are carefully selected, making sure that those chosen are those who most need a break, and are unlikely to have a viable way into legitimate employment and improve their situation without external help. In addition to being from low socio-economic backgrounds, candidates are in positions of high vulnerability and are considered at-risk of exploitation. This includes victims of domestic violence, single mothers and in some cases survivors of trafficking.

Building local networks through sustainable partnerships

The YCI programme connects businesses with the local community. Local non-profit partners identify deserving candidates who will benefit from the programme, coordinate the programme on the ground and help adapt the model to the context of the local market.

Working in partnership with the international hotel industry, participating full-service hotels provide the human, operational and training resources to deliver the programme.

By wanting to transform the lives of these young candidates, these hotels have come up with a whole range of good practices in terms of their training guidelines, operational efficiencies and engagement with other organisations and businesses. YCI enables these partners to innovate and to complement each other, and most importantly to start from a point of equality and contribution in the partnership

The hotel industry is well positioned for this type of programme as it can offer a wide range of entry-level jobs for successful graduates, and due to a hotel’s high levels of interaction with the local community, through its diverse supply chain.

This model increases the impact of responsible business leadership through resource efficiency and economies of scale by facilitating cooperation between competitors. YCI can therefore be seen as a methodology, and like any robust methodology, the model is scalable and transferable, and able  include sectors beyond hospitality and tourism.

YCI however has already successfully cooperated with other businesses and organisations who have contributed through workshops, site visits and other activities. The main contribution all business partners make is time through skills-based employee volunteering, which provides the space and the opportunity to increase their staff’s motivation and develop their skills You can read more about the business case for employee volunteering here.

In India, Accenture organised a series of life skill training training courses, which were so successful that they are now engaging with an entire range of programmes that the local non-profit partner runs on top of YCI. In Mexico, Manpower provided CV writing and job interview workshops and they have contributed to finding job placements for graduates. They are currently exploring further ways of working with the initiative, such as tracking and supporting graduates’ career progression.

Impact through adaptation and innovation

Looking back, YCI has evolved considerably over time. Since its first inception in Bangkok in the mid-nineties, the programme has put in place a solid set of guidelines and quality assurance mechanisms. Just as importantly, YCI has kept an open mind and adapted to new needs and challenges.

YCI has established Regional Coordinators – based in Addis Ababa, Mumbai and São Paulo – to represent and grow the global strategy in local programmes. They arealso experimenting with a new methodology, developing a licence to operate the YCI brand, but with less central management in order to allow faster growth at a bigger scale. Last but not least, YCI is embracing new opportunities through technology. Its new website will become a hub for partners to find resources and exchange ideas and advice.

The Youth Career Initiative is ready to take the next step in finding higher impact approaches to combat global youth unemployment. Please feel free to speak to YCI’s Director, Stephen Farrant, for an exploratory conversation about your participation in the programme.

The image above shows participants at a recent graduation ceremony in Mexico City