The future success or failure of the economy is up to the young, and according to a recent report by the PwC, many countries could do better. Combined governments and businesses could boost their economic potential by $1.1 trillion dollars if they empower their young workforce through a system seen among the world’s top earners.
In order to understand how to do that, we need to look at countries where youth employment is thriving: Germany and Switzerland. When you look at adults age 20 to 24, only 10 percent aren’t in school or out in the workforce.
The PwC attributes Germany’s success to its “dual educational system,” which provides the opportunity for vocational training alongside a formal education. So, the theory learned in school gets to be directly applied at an apprenticeship at a company. In Germany, the government also regulates which businesses can offer this kind of training, making sure the company is qualified to offer a certificate in a particular field. What’s more, the student earns money while in training with the company—no unpaid internships.
This system is a benefit to businesses looking to fill openings with skilled employees, but it also paves the way for skilled laborers by using a system that favors hiring on merit rather than connections. It’s for these reasons PwC argues this additional path allows for more upward social mobility.
Out of countries represented in the study, the United States sits at number 10 in the PwC’s “Young Workers Index.” Many high schools have “vocational technology” programs, however, they aren’t quite as versatile as Germany’s system. American businesses would also have to rid themselves of the idea of the unpaid intern.