Social Media: The Antidote for Youth Unemployment?

SCDI  #4MyGenNext week, we will be facilitating the #4MyGen session at the SCDI Annual Forum. The session, entitled ‘Engage and Empower’, will focus on the use of digital technology and social media to involve, engage and empower young people in Scotland’s political, economic and social agenda.

In preparing for the session, SCDI’s Lesley Sawers (CEO, @scdiCEO), Jane Gotts (International Director, @janegotts) and I have been discussing a related issue – to what extent can the power of digital technology and social media be harnessed to tackle the growing problem of youth unemployment (and underemployment) in Scotland? It would appear that we are not the only country thinking along these lines. Over the last few weeks or so the following articles have appeared:

Can We Fix Young America With Technology and Entrepreneurship?
Apps Jobs Drive a New Economic Boom Across America
A Jobs Manifesto for Young Europe (and the Rest of the World)
What could a Gen Y employee add to your corporate strategy?

Our emerging thinking in this area is summarised below in the hope that it will stimulate debate and discussion before, during and after the Annual Forum. We would very much welcome your contribution to this debate on an issue critical to the future well-being of the Scottish and global economies.

#4MyGen: Agents for Change

    Our thinking rests on four key propositions:

  • It is imperative that Scottish companies adopt a more proactive, strategic approach to digital technology and social media – see previous article entitled ‘Selling Social Media To Your Boss’. Used effectively, digital technology and new media can establish a very strong foundation for achieving sustained growth, profitability and competitiveness. Economic regeneration and improved global competitiveness are prerequisites for tackling the growing problem of youth unemployment.
  • The key term here is ‘used effectively’.  While some progress has been made, few companies in Scotland are leveraging the full potential of new technology.  Major barriers still need to be overcome.  These include: ‘uncertainty regarding costs’; the ‘inability to define expected outcomes’; ‘absence of a clear digital technology/social media strategy’; ‘lack of understanding of potential business benefits’; ‘executive scepticism’; and ‘lack of performance metrics’ – see ‘The State-of-Social Marketing, Part 1’
  • Young people, especially the ‘Net Generation’, already possess the digital and social networking skills, experience and confidence required by companies – see Don Tapscott’s excellent book, ‘Grown Up Digital : How the Net Generation is Changing YOUR World’.  Some may lack business acumen but this can be developed through appropriate education and training
  • Given the above three points,there is a growing need for a coordinated, national approach to digital technology and social media knowledge transfer; an approach that matches the growing availability of these skills among our young people to the specific needs of individual companies.  Third party intermediaries and the public sector may have a very important role to play in this respect.

We will explore these issues further at the Annual Forum next week, reporting back with an Action Plan for ‘getting there’.

Your comments and feedback are very welcome. To what extent can digital technology and social media help to create quality jobs for our young people? Has your company/organisation employed a young person to look after your social media activities? How successful has this been for you?

Take care

Jim, Alan, Vincent

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