Randstad’s initiatives around the world serve as examples of how to prepare the next generation for a dynamic future

It’s abundantly clear now that the pandemic has affected different populations differently, with those most at risk also most hurt by the economics of COVID-19. Among this group are younger workers, who have suffered the brunt of lockdowns and restrictions. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), global unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds in 2020 was 14.6%, nearly three times that of other age groups. Moreover, we have not witnessed this level of unemployment for young people in decades.

And in different parts of the world, youth unemployment varies. In Spain, the rate was 40% as of January of 2021, but in Germany it was only 6.2%. Additionally, the impact has been more detrimental to female youths than males because the hardest-hit industries such as hospitality employ proportionally more women.

Regardless of markets or gender, the current level of unemployment among youths is simply unacceptable. Without more intervention from employers, governments and other influential organizations, the generation that entered the labor market shortly before or during the pandemic could suffer long-term economic and developmental harm. We need systemic changes that will help younger workers retain their jobs or find new ones more quickly when they have been displaced.

How can this be done? Ramping up skilling and mentoring support is one way we can help young workers. Many who lost their jobs during the pandemic can improve their marketability by acquiring the skills in demand during this period of digital acceleration. At the same time, those new to the workforce can benefit from having mentors guide them on career choices, networking and job search. By enlarging their professional circle, we create more opportunities for youths.

For some time, Randstad has undertaken a number of initiatives and programs aimed at nurturing youth development — in addition to finding them a job. Last year, 597,000 of the candidates working in our main markets were younger than 25, and we helped place more than 15,000 in permanent roles. Beyond just securing employment, we have also provided additional resources and opportunities under a variety of programs.

In Belgium, our Randstad Young Talents program broadens employment opportunities for students with degrees in economics and business studies and helps them find interesting alternatives to banks and consultancy firms. Through the program, launched in 2012 in collaboration with Leuven University, last year alone we counseled 1,000 young workers individually and another 2,000 in workshops. Since the beginning, we have created 100 relevant jobs related to the students’ university courses, as well as 500 first jobs for graduates.

In Italy, we have a dedicated department focused on young people called Youth@Work. Its goal is to reduce the gap between education and the job market and help young people transition from one to the next. One particular project — called ‘Allenarsi per il Futuro’ (training for the future) — was created in partnership with Bosch, the diversified global manufacturer. The program offers students with various levels of education training sessions with companies and sports champions. The initiative aims to create awareness about the importance of our passions and helps participants get employment through short training.

In China, The Randstad Workplace Laboratory has developed long-term partnerships with a number of universities to build a pipeline for employers. As part of this program, which averages 1,000 graduate candidates per school, we offer consulting to talent about  career, salary and skills trends. 

Randstad also provides financial support to youths through the Randstad Charitable Foundation in Canada. We help grant recipients build their skills and prepare for entering the workforce. Through the foundation’s Water First Internship Program, indigenous youths are offered a 15-month internship program in which they serve as water treatment operators in their communities. 

These are just some of the tangible ways to provide the resources that today’s young workers need for a long and successful career. With the observance of the UN World Youth Skills Day on July 15, it’s a good time to also remember the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). This type of training can prepare young workers without a university education for an equally promising career, including entrepreneurship. TVET can reduce access barriers to the world of work by offering work-based learning and ensuring that skills gained are recognized and certified.

From March 2020 to May 2021, nearly one billion learners were affected by full or partial school closings, according to UNESCO. Now more than ever, we need to make sure the workforce of tomorrow is well-prepared and properly trained to take on the challenges of a transforming global economy. Through Randstad’s various initiatives and programs aimed at youth development, we hope to set an example for others to follow. Here you can learn more about all of our initiatives.

about the author
Herman Nijns CEO Randstad Group Belgium & Luxembourg
Herman Nijns CEO Randstad Group Belgium & Luxembourg

Herman Nijns

ceo, randstad group belux | regional managing director, nordics | european president, world employment confederation

Herman joined Randstad 33 years ago as a consultant and has worked through all management levels within the organization. He has led Randstad Group BeLux very successfully since 2005. From May 2021, Herman took on extra responsibilities as regional manager for the Nordics. Herman is a board member in several sector associations in Belgium. In February 2021, he was elected as the new European president of World Employment Confederation that represents both national federations and HR service providers from across Europe.