In a recent Foreign Affairs article, World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab concluded that “in the end, it all comes down to people and values.”
“We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them”, he wrote.
It is with this same vision that Athens Global Shapers community founded ReGeneration (ReGen) three years ago, a program that bridges young talent with career-launching opportunities. They founded ReGen to address a youth unemployment problem that continues to plague developed and developing economies alike.
The Grand Exodus: Generation G
Unemployment is a global issue, but what happens when young and educated individuals are trapped in a seemingly dead-end situation? According to a Eurostat report, Greece is host to the largest youth unemployment rate across the EU at over 50% unemployed youth over the last several years.
As a result, the country is currently encountering the highest brain drain in an advanced western economy in modern times. The so-called Generation G – young, talented and Greek – first appeared in 2010, and is here to stay.
Interestingly, Greece is well-known for its extremely high caliber human capital. According to a report by The Economist, “the country punches well above its weight globally,” as roughly 3% of top scientists worldwide hail from Greece, whose population accounts for just 0.2% of the global count.
“But 85% of these research superstars live and work abroad, constituting a brain drain greater than of in any other euro-zone country,” the report states. As a matter of fact, the country is losing its “youngest, best and brightest,” a European University Institute study dated March 2014 reports.
By and large, more than 200,000 Greeks below the age of 35 have migrated abroad since the beginning of the Greek crisis in 2010.
The statistics are dismal, and ReGen strives to be the force of change Greece needs.
Responding with a Regeneration:
ReGen’s goal is to provide young graduates with all the necessary competencies in order to stand out. Through a 6 month paid internship placement in selected companies in Greece, an intensive training and a social work program the aim is to help the interns kick start their careers.There is a major lack of positive news coming from Greece. There seem to be no stories of change.
Four years later, ReGen, the initiative promised to the Global Shapers community on behalf of the Athens Hub upon leaving Davos, is now a reality. ReGen is a best-practice that against all odds delivers measurable, on-going, and resilient impact exemplifying the Forum’s values.
ReGen’s goal is to provide young graduates with all the necessary competencies in order to stand out. Through a 6 month paid internship placement in selected companies in Greece, an intensive training and a social work program the aim is to help the interns kick start their careers.
ReGen stands out as the first of its kind non-profit, multi-stakeholder paid internship and youth development initiative in the region. A real blueprint of possibility and empowerment, the program offers young graduates a multi-faceted work experience, impactful training and coaching from certified trainers. ReGen also supports multiple opportunities for personal development, like an active one-month involvement with an NGO, for example. Amidst a recessionary micro and macro environment, we managed to attract 14,000 applications for 200+paid internships positions offered by our 50+ hiring partners in just a couple years.
This amazing turnout would be impossible without the overwhelming $2.000.000 support in capital contributions and pro bono services by our ‘early adopter’ key partner and major sponsor The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), joined last year by The Hellenic Initiative as well as the rest of the corporate partners and friends. Above all, the collective’s shared passion, values, and commitment to a common mission, made this program a sustainable movement that will regenerate the future of Greece.
The Golden Triangle 2.0.
On the second day at Davos 2012, The Coca-Cola Company CEO Muhtar Kent hosted a reception to welcome the Global Shapers class and discuss his “golden triangle” theory of business, government, and civil society working hand-in-hand to do good.
This theory of collaboration may be ideal, but what happens when one of the three pillars cannot offer the support needed to move forward? As trust in traditional institutions and governments declines, and capital markets suffer from unprecedented volatility, uncertainty dominates. Thus, there have been many questions raised regarding the feasibility and impact these “golden triangle” partnerships can bring about. In turn, these concerns lead one to question the role youth and civil society can actually play in achieving measurable impact on the ground amidst an environment of severe political turbulence.
Set as a strong example, ReGen has shown the world that Global Shapers can effectively act as catalysts for a new collective – “the Golden Triangle 2.0” (GT2) – with more civil society-to-business partnerships, and less government involvement. And this is not limited to Athens. Projects and major events from others hubs such as San Juan, Florianapolis, Rome, Turin, Bujumbara, Chennai, Riyadh, Dubai, Doha, Venice, San Fransisco and New York, give testament to the advent of GT2.
What has continued to keep the team going is the vision to overturn the opportunity deficit by capitalizing on our generation’s guts surplus before it escalates to become a national dreams deficit, which is more than crucial than any kind of fiscal deficit. From all the Forum events, there’s one thing to admit – the guts and passion surplus in this community is more than enough to fuel several battles of Thermopylae around the world.
So, to this year’s crop of Shapers leaving Davos to head back to the real world: harness that energy and those new connections to bring together the civic, business and government sectors to effect real change. It is your unique power for collaboration that can do so. Gear up, and shape on!