Making Available a Support System and Skills Sets to Help Millenials Accomplish Their Goals
‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime’ is an adage that is oft repeated to people who want to do good and make a difference. This has held good for decades, guiding social interventions across the world especially in the case of livelihoods and income generation for the marginalised. However, we see an increasing shift in the mindsets of our youth– the Millennials. Youth from low-income families have the same level of aspirations as those from more affluent sections of society, and we need to take that into consideration while planning for their engagement.
“I believe humankind is intrinsically good-hearted and well-intentioned, despite the fast-paced lives we lead. However, thoughts are not actions, and to convert feelings into motivations, we need something more than just us. Others.”
The recent announcement by the government that skill training will be demand-led and not supply-based has underlined the failure of making our youth employable. Crores of rupees have been spent and an impact assessment of these programmes may reveal a sorry tale. The truth is that the youth do not want to learn masonry, electrician and welder skills, even though a mason could earn a significant amount as compared to many jobs in the market. They do not want a retail job that pays them Rs.7000 per month but requires them to travel for two hours and stand for 12. So, what is it that they want, and what does this mean for our policymakers who seek to leverage the demographic dividend? Surely not by teaching the youth to fish!!!
A paradigm shift is the need of the hour…
The time has come for us to teach the youth how to find the fish, if a fish is what they really want. The skills required for finding the fish demands critical thinking and a problem solving approach rather than a prescriptive, top-down solution. If they have aspirations, skills should be provided to them to reach their goal. Indeed, you may find that the original goal is not what they really understand; and may need further guidance to identify the true and practical path they can tread. The next step is to introduce them to an ecosystem that support and help them achieve their objectives. This in turn leads to yet another oft repeated quote by Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ With all due respect to the Father of the Nation, not everyone is cut out to be self-sacrificing and altruisticat all times. Yet, I believe humankind is intrinsically good-hearted and well-intentioned, despite the fast paced lives we lead. However, thoughts are not actions, and to convert feelings into motivations, we need something more than just us. Others. Research states that millennials have an attention span of just eight seconds, definitely not long enough to engage for transformational change; hence, the need for anchoring from outside, or a push from the side. From ‘Be the Change’ to ‘We are the Change’ calls for collaboration. The ever-increasingly interconnected world calls for partnerships that leverage resources and avoid duplication. More important, they are built on support systems which in turn are the result of trust and acceptance of each other: A much-needed era for collective impact rather than crusading warriors.
So how do we develop critical thinking skills and cultivate relations that foster sustainable change and nurture a better world for all? The concept of shared value creation has been instrumental in a shift in social good projects from a charity mindset to an economic framework of ‘Do well by doing good’. This requires both critical thinking and alliances and yet, the focus is on commercial benefits as a pre-requisite for its success. Common purpose based on social good cannot be driven by profit-making, though it can be one of the objectives. Indeed we need to realise that it is precisely the ethical values we share that allow for shared-value creation (win-win proposition) and it is not always monetary. What then, are these values and beliefs that can drive joint efforts?
“Social entrepreneurship has gained ground precisely due to its sustainable foundation, and the significant amount of impact investing is testimony to their success”
Let me give you an example that we follow here at IDOBRO. As a social enterprise that facilitates an active and deeper model of engagement to map and implement market-based solutions through a i5-Step Process: Inform, Interface, Interact, Integrate and Impact, we follow the RISE Values of Positive Action – Responsible, Inclusive, Sustainable and Eco-friendly. Every individual believes in them to some degree and even if they do not agree with your definition of each, they cannot deny the intrinsic value of each!
“No one individual or organisation is capable of solving every issue. When we work in silos, we are unable to tackle the cross-cutting issues in community development;therefore the need for collaboration”
It is interesting to note that when we conduct workshops on the RISE Values, participants themselves identify them, pointing to its deeprooted presence in human behaviourand consciousness.
Being responsible is the first step towards doing the right thing. It requires one to be conscious of oneself and take ownership of their behaviour and realising the consequences of the same. The next step is to think about others, being aware and inclusive in our actions and plans. It is good to seem any socially sensitive initiatives at a personal level, generally on birthdays and anniversaries, or as volunteers. Organisations too are inclusive by undertaking CSR projects or employee volunteering at least once a year. While any good social project is beneficial and can bring relief to those in need, a long-term approach is fundamental for true impact. This is why a demand for sustainable solutions by donors and planners too have forced the development sector to look at their Theory of Change (TOC) and outcomes rather than activities and outputs. Being sustainable demands diagnostic thinking around issues and design thinking for solutions. Social entrepreneurship has gained ground precisely due to its sustainable foundation, and the significant amount of impact investing is testimony to their success.
Responsible, Inclusive and Sustainable seem like a long way on the road to creating lasting change and yet the problems of our world are so complex that every good gesture and enterprise still falls short. No one individual or organisation is capable of solving every issue. Moreover, problems are linked to each other- be it a malnourished child who cannot go to school and therefore has no formal education, or, an ailing adult that cannot go to work and earn an income to live a decent life. When we work in silos, we are unable to tackle the cross-cutting issues in community development; therefore the need for collaboration. Alliances do not just fill gaps by leveraging strengths and resources distinct to each stakeholder, but also avoids duplication of efforts and wastage of limited assets.
The RISE principle further expounds that these values are constantly evolving based on our experiences and learning. When we find others who share the same values and are of the same degree, we discover ourselves to be in sync and the potential to collaborate manifests itself; thus, an ecosystem approach where stakeholders collectively work towards solutions. Eco-friendly, as the last value, includes ecosystem friendly as well as environment friendly. This then allows for holistic and integrated development.
The RISE framework based on the RISE values and principles propagates the creation of shared value for mutual benefit and communal impact. We need to train our youth in schools and adults in the workplace on the need for analytical skills that forces the question ‘Why?’ and discover partnerships that answers with a ‘How’.
The time is right for this new paradigm shift to take positive action and together be the change makers. May our millennials rise!
Karon Shaiva is Managing Trustee of the RISE Infinity Foundation and Convenor of the RISE Summit that seeks to break barriers and build bridges on women, social and green issues.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org