Guest article: How businesses can help empower young people — Matthieu Seguin, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland

By Business & Finance
16 July 2018

Challenging times for young unemployed people even with strong economic growth

Finding a pathway in life can prove to be a challenge, with many young people in Ireland struggling to find their first job, get their foot in the door or continue in education. Despite the backdrop of strong economic growth and increasing levels of investment, over one in ten young people in Ireland are currently unemployed.

A generation lost to unemployment risks reducing the talent pool available to businesses as the economy recovers. Indeed, from my engagements with fellow business leaders, it is clear that organisations like ours face increasing challenges in finding new recruits with the right skillset and mindset.

With Ireland reaching near full employment, there is a growing necessity to ensure that we harness the skills, talent and creativity of all our young people to help foster future growth and competitiveness.

I believe that industry can and should play a role in closing the gap that has emerged between education and work and give young people ownership over their dreams. Leading businesses have a special responsibility to ensure that the society in which we operate is sustainable and prosperous for all. By doing so, the business community across the island of Ireland can empower our young people on a journey towards meaningful employment.

Providing a stepping stone to a brighter future not only requires investment in training supports by industry, it requires leaders to provide mentoring so young people can build long-lasting professional networks and access practical advice and support.

Industry can support young unemployed people learn practical skills and resilience

Industry professionals have a wealth of experience that can empower resilience and self-belief in others. We will harness this expertise through the #YouthEmpowered platform; encouraging our employees to share business know-how, practical skills and their experience from personal career milestones to help guide and advise young people to undertake their own journey of discovery and self-development.

In my own career I’ve had many setbacks, which I have been proud to share with young people on the programme. For example, on my first day as a sales representative I failed to reach my targets and really struggled to get to grips with the role. After this initial hurdle, I learned to adapt and began to develop confidence in my abilities. Progressively I learned the skill of selling and within weeks I was surpassing my targets. Now, many years later, I’m still selling and still learning!

It was my hope that participants on the programme could come to understand that setbacks can also become opportunities to learn, and develop a greater sense of self-belief. With #YouthEmpowered, I hope we can foster this growth mindset within the next generation of future leaders. A growth mindset is something I believe passionately in developing in our current and future employees – and #YouthEmpowered is helping us to focus on that journey of learning and developing, for both ourselves and others.

As the famous Japanese proverb states: “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”

Youth Empowered Program

At Coca-Cola HBC, we have responded to the challenge posed by the transition to employment by launching the 2018 #YouthEmpowered programme. With 460 young people benefitting from classroom training sessions in 2017, this year also sees the introduction of the new Digital Hub, offering e-learning courses to equip job seekers with essential skills to succeed. It is our ambition at Coca-Cola HBC that 750 young people across Ireland and Northern Ireland will benefit from the programme in 2018, through both live workshops and the new online training. More than 40 of our employees at Coca-Cola HBC have taken up this mantle to become Youth Coaches for #YouthEmpowered 2018, playing an active role in the workshop-based learning by sharing career experience and providing supports to participants who face obstacles to achieving their life goals.

To register for free online training and mentorship log onto: