Co-creating a sustainable post-pandemic future for YOUth

10 October 2022

Young people around the globe have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently published ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022 finds that the share of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2020 rose to 23.3 per cent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the previous year and a level not seen in at least 15 years. Now, more than ever, young people need to be at the center of the global agenda.


The public and private sectors both have an important role to play in empowering youth and co-creating a future where they can thrive. How? To answer this question, the Global Alliance for YOUth and the Global Shapers Community carried out a Global Youth Survey sponsored by NielsenIQ to better understand youth aspirations in the post-pandemic era.


The survey results, obtained in the first quarter of 2022, capture the views of nearly 2,000 young people, 18 to 29 years old living in 19 different countries[1], and highlight four key areas of action: Inclusive Jobs, Sustainability, Digital Access, and Mental Health. The results of this survey were also presented during a World Economic Forum Affiliate Session in Davos titled "Youth View: Post Covid-19 Private Sector Role”.


Inclusive Jobs


The impact of the pandemic on the world of work has been unprecedented: the workplace has never changed so much and so rapidly. What are future employees’ searching for? The top three criteria for young people when selecting a job are: salary (74%), career growth (52%) and job security (41%).


In addition, young employees want flexible working hours even if having remote work options is not a must. In fact, over a third of the respondents selected flexible working hours among their top three criteria when selecting a job but only 14% selected remote-work options.


As new ways of working are transforming company cultures, companies should continue to invest in developing the human capital of their workforce. In fact, while 2 in 3 young people are confident about having the right skills for employment for the next 5 to 10 years, upskilling opportunities remain the main type of support that the next generation of employees seek from employers and corporations. When asked what support employers can provide to the new generation of employees, 68% of those surveyed mentioned financial support to acquire new skills and technique, while 40% mentioned study leaves or sabbaticals for pursuing higher studies. “We cannot afford to lose a generation, at a time of technological changes with the sustainability imperative which is ours. We must skill, reskill and upskill our young people and we must do it quickly. Businesses are key actors of change including in the youth employment space. We can only do so much individually, but we have the ability to multiply our impact when we join forces in pursuit of common objectives,” says Laurent Freixe, Global Alliance for YOUth Founder and Chair and Nestlé’s CEO for Latin America.


Opportunities linked with new work experiences such as working in a different country or working on projects not linked to their current everyday job also rank high in terms of desired support from employers: over half of the youth living in Africa are interested in opportunities to work abroad.




Youth unemployment and climate change were identified as the two critical global issues that need to be addressed to achieve a sustainable future. Laurent Freixe agrees that “we are increasingly seeing investments in economic recovery, improved technological capabilities, expanded youth programs, and support for entrepreneurship. This recovery should be green, sustainable and inclusive.”


Climate change is seen as the most pressing issue in Western Europe (41%), Asia-Pacific (40%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (36%). Youth are taking notice of companies’ switching to “green mode” and the increasing engagements in reducing their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. In fact, almost half of the youth surveyed are confident in the ability of corporations and businesses to achieve the sustainability goals set by governments. Youth in Asia Pacific are significantly more confident than youth in the rest of the world (70% vs 49%).


Digital access


The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation both in the workplace and personal sphere with over 90% of youth surveyed considering digital access as a basic need. Over half of the respondents (56%) are fully or mostly confident that everyone in their country will have digital access in the next decade. Confidence levels among youth are particularly high in Asia Pacific (78%) and Middle East (65%) while only 38% of respondents in Africa are confident that everyone in their country will have digital access in the next ten years.


Mental Health


The isolation, quarantine and psychological stress faced during the pandemic have impacted everyone’s mental health leading to greater awareness of its importance with 3 in 4 respondents finding that mental health importance has increased in the past year. In addition, nearly all of them (91%) feel that employers, including corporations, should take responsibility towards their employees’ mental health.


As the survey results highlight, the youth are calling for greater support in delivering a sustainable future for all. By delivering on inclusive jobs, sustainability, digital access, and mental health both the public and private sectors can make remarkable positive contributions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Alliance for YOUth, a business-driven movement, is focusing on responding to the needs of youth by equipping them with the necessary skills to thrive in the world of work, today and tomorrow.


Full survey results:


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[1] Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States


Laurent Freixe

Executive Vice President & CEO Zone Latin America, Nestlé S.A.

Chair of Global Alliance for YOUth and GAN Global

Contributing partner

Year of publication

10 October 2022