It is becoming increasingly evident that the generation of youth employment ultimately depends more on aspects that act as prior barriers that need to be overcome than as promoting agents that need encouraging. If youth employment figures are to improve, there must be a higher demand for employment at all levels. This level will not exceed the replenishment of retirees if companies do not improve the performance of workers above the levels of economic growth.
Technological factors favour and hinder youth employment; on the one hand due to the fact that digital natives are more familiar with new technologies, but, on the other hand, technology drastically reduces the number of working hours required to achieve the same outcome through the application of software to routine tasks and to any type of process.
In order to generate more intelligent employment for young people – who are well-trained and familiar with technology – we need to increase significantly the value of what companies produce, whatever their nature. More value understood as the way more complex problems are solved, reducing costs and, consequently, generating greater returns. This system results in a more sophisticated type of growth, in which youth employment can be applied more successfully.
This is the only way to preserve the virtuous cycle where technology, value and growth are aligned and where companies require well-trained people who master the technologies that lead to the transformation that comes with growth.
However, this increase in value of what is produced or served requires the retraining of adults in all age groups. We cannot do things better without applying new skills to current jobs, whether permanent or temporary, in all fields. This implies investing in training and in innovation projects, where one or two generations work together and renew processes, products and service systems as well as markets and business models.
Otherwise, the paralysis of “what has always been” that leads to decline through the effect of other external agents will overprotect current jobs and prevent the application of new skills and technologies. This is the vicious circle that leads to the loss of value of a company and the lack of training of the workers.
Just as investments in R&D lead to results regarding economic activity, the investment in retraining adults leads to youth employment, sustainability and business development. The training of adults in a company and youth unemployment are two variables that are far more closely related that they appear and that determine, together with technology, the degree of renovation of businesses, of the economy and of social welfare.
Juan José Goñi Zabala