The writer, HRH the Prince of Wales, is president and founder of the Prince’s Trust
The effects of this pandemic have been wide-ranging and long lasting. Young people, though less directly affected by the medical emergency of the pandemic, have been disproportionately impacted by the financial fallout. It has been reported that during the height of the pandemic, one in six young people were out of work globally.
Despite this difficult situation, I am heartened by initial findings from a piece of international research conducted by my Prince’s Trust on the future of work. The research highlights young people as truly global citizens, committed to caring for their communities and showing concern for wider environmental stewardship.
Since the early days of the Prince’s Trust in the 1970s, I have always believed in helping to develop the full potential of young people. My Trust has helped over 1m of these young people transform their lives, start careers and launch businesses, and now works in 18 countries around the world. Despite the pandemic, it is encouraging to hear that almost 80 per cent of young people surveyed believe that their generation can create solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Momentum is building and now is the time to create sustainable labour markets and help prepare young people for decent jobs which will transform energy, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and our oceans. Today we have a chance to put young people at the very heart of a successful global recovery, which is also kind to the planet.
The key to this is preparing young people for the future of work. We need to provide the opportunities and skills that allow the next generation to contribute to net zero ambitions. This is something that has the full support of my Trust and we have already seen a number of young people benefit. There is a willingness from the workforce of the future to enter more sustainable industries, with research findings showing that 74 per cent of young people would be interested in a green job, despite only 3 per cent having their main job in the sector, and a similar number interested in the digital economy.
Ben is one of these young people. Although once unemployed and struggling with his mental health, he is now thriving as a data analyst apprentice. Ben has made it clear how important it was for him to work in an organisation which he perceives as having strong sustainability and green policies.
My Prince’s Trust charities around the world are committed to the role that we can play in supporting young people to succeed in these emerging job markets. Already we are working on sustainable building in Australia and focusing on careers in urban nature and forestry in Canada. In Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria we are working to upskill young people for work in green industries and, in Pakistan, we have focused on advancing green entrepreneurship.
In the UK, my Trust has been working hard in the face of high youth unemployment and a volatile jobs market to support young people in growing sectors such as digital, green technology and health and social care. I am immensely proud, for instance, of those young people who, during the pandemic, began vital work on the frontline to support our NHS.
In Pakistan, a group of young men were challenged to develop a business idea within a school programme. The team developed an idea to recycle and sell second-hand clothes to help to eliminate waste. The determination and ambition of young people around the world continues to inspire me more than I can possibly say.
This work by my Prince’s Trust is part of a long journey, but it is the innovation of the private sector that can be truly harnessed to create millions of net zero, green jobs that can benefit today’s young people. This research will help to inform conversations with business leaders including the 300 who have signed up to my Terra Carta, a road map designed by the private sector to put sustainability at the heart of our economy. From these conversations, and further research with young people across the world, my Trust will launch a full report later this summer on the future of work.
Having suffered one of the greatest challenges to people’s lives and livelihoods in living memory, we now have an opportunity to create real, lasting change for our world. Forty-six years ago, I founded the Prince’s Trust on the basis that every young person deserves the chance to succeed. As we emerge from this pandemic, that mission is as important now as it was then.