Life Transitions: Youth and Employment, Aging, Migration
During the course of an individual's life, there are often discrete points of transition that can have disproportionate effects on that person’s subsequent social and economic success or failure. From a societal perspective, we need to recognize these critical points, invest in building preparedness, ensure that individuals have the necessary support resources, and remove any systematic disadvantages for certain populations groups as they navigate these transitions. GivingWorks has had the opportunity to work with leading organizations on three life transitions with national and global relevance: the transition of youth into productive working life; the changing needs of aging adults; and the particular challenges faced by migrants.
Youth & Employment
Among the multiple life transitions faced by young people (including education, citizenship, family), the transition to work is particularly vital. Success of the work transition can have lasting impacts on human capital development and longer-term economic well-being. Long idle spells during youth can slow the accumulation of skills and experience that ultimately position young people on an upward career and income trajectory.
The challenge of productive employment is particularly acute in developing regions facing rapid growth in youth populations. Given the urgency of the issue and the uneven track record of traditional, youth-focused interventions (e.g., skills training, entrepreneurship promotion), the World Bank recognized a need for innovation. GivingWorks worked with technical experts from the Bank's Social Protection & Labor and Jobs practices to articulate a broader problem frame around youth employment anchored in accelerating the spatial and structural economic transitions necessary to sustainably improve the quantity and quality of employment opportunities. The ultimate goal of the effort was to use the problem frame as a lens to surface a portfolio of innovative solutions that could be tested and taken to scale.
Aging introduces new individual needs and challenges. We have worked extensively with AARP—the United States’ largest membership and advocacy organization for the 50+ population—to address a number of issues facing older Americans, including transportation and personal mobility, housing, workforce equity, and financial security in retirement. The availability of safe, affordable, and convenient mobility options is a prerequisite for most other services and activities that older adults need and desire.
Older Americans take substantially fewer trips out of the home than other adult cohorts, which can lead to social isolation and declines in physical and mental health. Affordable, safe, and secure housing options empower people to age in place if they choose, providing continued connection with their families and communities. For many older citizens, their home is their most important asset; they need information and options on how to optimize and utilize its value.
Aging individuals who desire to stay in the workforce are vulnerable to age discrimination. They also require a work environment adapted to changes in their physical capabilities. For poorer seniors, continual skills maintenance and advancement and improved job mobility is necessary to avoid becoming trapped in low-wage jobs. Access to and use of employer-sponsored savings instruments are critical enablers of retirement security. Gaps in retirement plan participation are most severe among small- and medium-sized employers. For each of these target issues, we helped AARP develop strategic roadmaps that leverage the organization’s advocacy, programming and community engagement tools to promote sustainable shifts in public policy, private investments, and consumer behavior.
Recent refugee crises have raised the profile of migration in the global dialogue. Displacement by violence, conflict or persecution creates an obvious set of transition needs and vulnerabilities. A larger group of migrants are motivated by economic factors and the opportunity to escape poverty and un- or under-employment. These individuals, too, must overcome several challenges to successfully navigate the transition, including psychological burdens of separation from family and the costs and risks of moving and finding employment and housing in a new location. Globally, there are approximately 250 million international migrants, over 21 million of which are classified as refugees. This number is likely to grow for the foreseeable future, driven by income gaps and inequality, demographic changes, and the environmental effects of climate change.
Migrants who successfully settle and thrive in destination countries become an important source of support to their families and communities that remain in the country of origin as well as a support system for new migrants entering the destination country. GivingWorks has led some thinking on ways to leverage migrant diasporas as agents of social change through advocacy, knowledge and skills transfer, foreign investment, philanthropy, and remittances. Our work included the conceptual design of a diaspora peer networking platform to enable social, cultural, economic, and political engagement in home and host countries and facilitate learning and exchange across diasporas.