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Future workforce

Average read time: 6 minutes

We’re helping young people develop the skills they need to find meaningful work.

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Young people are our future – our consumers, employees, partners, policymakers. But times are tough for many young adults. Covid-19 has disrupted the studies of many and affected the jobs of many more. Even before the pandemic, people between 15 and 24 years old were three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, while 126 million young workers were living in poverty around the world (International Labour Organization, 2020). Many young people leave education ill-prepared for the world of work, and those who find work are more likely to be in precarious employment than other age groups.

So we’re working more and more with like-minded partners and governments to create employment skills in people from 15 to 24 years old. To help them find and keep meaningful work. And to encourage them to take a purposeful approach to their future. It’s one of the goals we’ve set in our Unilever Compass.

Help equip 10 million young people with essential skills to prepare them for job opportunities by 2030.

This is one of our Future of work goals

Acting for the young

We’re building on our successful youth employability programme in South Africa, where in just three years we helped almost 400,000 young people identify their purpose and develop skills to pursue it. Working with Microsoft, Pearson and LinkedIn, we’ve launched LevelUp, a youth employability platform which will help us reach a diverse group of young people. It’s a one-stop shop where young people define their purpose and access accredited training, volunteering and work experience with Unilever and our partners. It helps them develop essential skills for making the most of job opportunities. In 2021, we also piloted a 10-day LevelUp accelerator programme to help young people access digital learning, mentoring and work experience.

We’re also launching and expanding other training and apprenticeship schemes around the world. In Bangladesh, our Frontliners Academy offers young people accredited training to become distributor sales reps and then introduces them to potential employers.

In Brazil, our Virtual Youth Development Centre in collaboration with Enactus is aiming to skill up 1 million young people over the next five years. And in Kenya, in collaboration with social venture network Shujaaz Inc, Unilever Kenya will launch a multi-platform campaign to train and recruit at least 10,000 young people into the retail business with the aim of helping them become profitable and digitally-enabled retailers.

In the UK, our apprenticeship scheme is providing valuable learning as we expand similar programmes in other countries around the world.

Young apprentices leading the way in the UK

Our apprenticeship scheme is gathering momentum and providing valuable lessons and models to use elsewhere. It’s particularly focused on enabling under-represented and disadvantaged young people to develop critical skills for work.

Not only does this give young people a leg up into employment, it also helps us fill key skills gaps and build the diversity of thought and experience across our business.

A young apprentice smiling infront of Unilever products

Inspiring action

We’re moving towards our commitment in a variety of other ways. By inspiring young people to engage with our shared global challenges using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. By mobilising them to take action on the things they care about through our Take Action hub. By equipping them with 21st-century skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. And by advocating a different approach in the secondary education system so that young people leave school better prepared for work.

Harnessing the power of our brands

Some of our brands have been working for young people for years. Sunsilk and Wall’s are good examples of how we’ve been building the skills people need to get into work.

SheaMoisture: supporting girls and young women

In the US, SheaMoisture is supporting the 100K Black Women initiative, with the goal of changing the futures of 100,000 black women and girls. In partnership with Girls With Impact, it’s kicking off the initiative by providing 1,500 scholarships to black, under-resourced girls and young women aged 14-24.

The scholarships enable them to participate in the US’s only online business programme aimed at young women. In a country where only 6% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and female business founders obtain only a tiny proportion of available venture funding, the mini-MBA programme equips girls with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become the leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow. Graduates leave armed with a business plan, venture pitch and a business mentor to support them in their professional futures.

Upskilling for the future with Generation Unlimited

Three-quarters of young people aged between 15 and 24 are off-track to gain the skills needed for employment. And one in three young women are not learning, training or working. These are the alarming findings from a new report by the Education Commission and UNICEF.

We’re helping to tackle these issues through our collaboration with UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited, a global multi-sector partnership created to meet the urgent need for expanded education, training and employment opportunities for young people on an unprecedented scale.

Building skills for 1 million young people

Our Dirt is Good laundry brand is helping Generation Unlimited expand the Global Volunteer Initiative (GVI), which currently empowers 12.5 million volunteers in 40 countries to be a force for good within their communities.

GVI helps countries build bases of youth volunteers – as volunteerism is a powerful way to engage young people as changemakers and to address inequities of opportunity.

Our partnership aims to help over 1 million young people in India and Brazil to take action and build the valuable and transferable soft skills they’ll need to thrive in a complex and uncertain world.

Find out more about the Global Volunteer Initiative
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More skills for girls

In the UK, Unilever and Generation Unlimited are also partners in the government’s innovative Girls’ Education Skills Partnership, joining forces to boost access to education and employment for girls in developing countries.

With funding from the partnership, Generation Unlimited will help expand the Passport to Earning digital skills platform that provides girls with free certified education and skills training, and links them to future employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.

It will also support the Challenge Fund that aims to equip girls with the skills they need to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

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Volunteering opens up opportunities in Kenya

Volunteering opens up new opportunities, providing new skills and valuable experience as a route into work. That’s the thinking behind our Heroes for Change initiative in Kenya.

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