Urgency for Action at WEF

January 25, 2013  |  8 comments

Queen Rania:

“Education = Opportunity. The opportunity to work. The opportunity to escape poverty. The opportunity to live healthily. The opportunity to live confidently. The opportunity to hope. I believe you deserve an education. Whoever you are. It's your right.”

By Amy Rosen
NFTE President & CEO

I feel a strong sense of optimism as I continue to participate in meetings and events, and talk with people spontaneously in and out of the Congress Centre. A growing group of business and government leaders, social entrepreneurs and journalists are coming to the conclusion that we must act NOW and together to find solutions that offer hope to the growing global army of unemployed youth. Driven by economic interests and/or moral callings, I sense that urgency is suddenly entering the discussion.  Add 75 million current unemployed youth with the 200+ million that today make less than $2.00 per day and suddenly, we are facing a cold reality. 35% of young people under 27 are turning more and more towards hopelessness.

This year here at Davos, the dialogue feels real – not just filled with platitudes and self-importance.  There’s a strong will to act and work together to tackle this issue.

SAP, a major supporter of NFTE, hosted a breakfast this morning and their Co-CEO Bill McDermott said that it is critical that we keep trying to "spark the dream" because at the root of everything is the "strength and ingenuity of the human spirit.” At a session hosted by Barclays, I was struck by Antony Jenkins’ (Group Chief Executive) comments about this crisis. He described it as a structural problem in our global economy that requires a solution much greater than a piecemeal approach; everyone needs to come together – big corporations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. The head of Alcatel-Lucent, Ben Verwaayen, Director General, expressed his frustration about the lagging actions of his peers.

 George Bernard Shaw:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Just last night, I was with the CEO of Hilton Worldwide, Chris Nassetta, and he showed his commitment to this issue by pledging resources and personal time to a major initiative involving entrepreneurial and job skills. This is the beginning of a powerful movement- a top tier group of leaders eager to partner with folks like NFTE who are on the ground doing this work and searching every day for champions.

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