BOG BLOG : 5 – 12 JUNE 2013


Art by Yda, in GIBS Info Centre

 Art by Yda Walt, in GIBS Info Centre

Youth unemployment : A danger for Africa’s future  /  Gregory Simpkins

The International Labour Organization (ILO) just released a frightening report on unemployment worldwide. It said that more than 1.5 billion people, or half the world’s working population, are in vulnerable or insecure jobs and that 205 million workers were unemployed last year. According to the ILO, the official figure is probably an underestimate because many people have given up trying to find a job. The most unsettling aspect of the report is that 77.7 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unable to find work. This is a particular problem for countries in Africa.

There are 200 million Africans in this age range, comprising more than 20% of the continent’s population. Worldwide, youth are 43.7% of the total unemployed people even though they account for only 25% of the world’s working population. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 60% of the unemployed are youth, and an average of 72% of youth live on less than US$2 a day. . . . This large, desperate and restive population poses a danger for many African countries. One of the underlying causes of the sudden revolt in Tunisia was high youth unemployment. While the overall unemployment rate in Tunisia is 13.3%, it is much higher among the young.

It is still higher in many other African countries, whose base unemployment rate is high to begin with:

Zimbabwe: 95%
Liberia: 85%
Mozambique: 60%
Djibouti: 59%
Namibia: 51.2%

With rates that high, the entire population is having trouble surviving, and youth are three times more likely to be unemployed than their elders, so there are veritable armies of unemployed youth eager to make a living doing whatever they have to do to survive. An increasing number of unemployed youth are college graduates. While some do leave for the developed world, many are stuck without the funds to go abroad. They are dissatisfied with what their governments have done for them and have the smarts to connect with others to channel their discontent into action. . . .   If unemployment of less than 15% in North African countries boiled over into demonstrations, what might be the case in Africa, where more than 20 countries have equal or higher unemployment rates? Poor governance, corruption and systemic economic problems certainly cause much of the unemployment in African countries. However, a lack of investment in enterprises that could create jobs also is at fault. If African countries can attract more investment – both domestic and foreign – then the problem of unemployment gradually can be minimized.

UNDP official stresses role of private engagement in development, new era demands more knowledge-sharing and expertise – Inclusive Markets

Washington—Major changes in the multilateral landscape have paved the way for new partnerships and a concrete, recognized role for the private sector in development, UNDP Assistant Administrator for External Relations and Advocacy Sigrid Kaag said here. “The geopolitical and multilateral landscapes have changed, creating new opportunities to partner and co-create,” Kaag told a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Feb. 24. “The development experiences and approaches coming from emerging economies provide new examples and new insights.” . “Meaningful, equitable, inclusive growth requires the active engagement of all partners, and the private sector is critical to job-rich economic growth,” she said. “In many countries, the private sector shares its expertise, access to technology, and innovative practices and tested business models.” “UNDP’s experience in working with the private sector, in growing inclusive markets, has given us ample experience to build on and apply in our work with all development partners,” she said, citing “tremendous momentum” for accelerating progress toward the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UNDP draws on its legitimacy, neutrality, and global reach to further promote trilateral cooperation and private sector engagement, she said, adding that the agency seeks to foster inclusive markets with jobs and services for the poor, predictable economic bases, and good governance   . . . 

‘Revolution in development’ – In 2005, UNDP, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Government of France The Growing Inclusive Markets initiative comprises 28 business schools in developing countries along with other partners to build and share knowledge related to private sector effectiveness among low-income populations and to develop capacity. UNDP also hosts a multi-partner initiative, the Business Call to Action(BCtA), which challenges companies to develop innovative business models with commercial and development outcomes.   Emerging economies play a key role – The 34-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) now includes Mexico, Chile, Israel, the Republic of Korea, and Turkey. Such emerging economies are now partners in shaping and implementing development policy, Kaag said. Middle-income countries with growing economies are clear in their demand for cutting-edge knowledge and tested expertise to develop equitably and create opportunities for the present and future, she said. “The Arab Spring has taught us a number of valuable lessons in this respect. Employment and employability remain driving forces in society,” she said. – UNDP has meanwhile signed new partnership agreements with Brazil, China, Turkey, Mexico, and South Africa, committing to work together to support other developing countries to meet development challenges. (*curator’s bold and cursive style)


Is an MFA the new MBA?   Steven Tepper, FASTCOMPANY

Companies all across America are starting to see a critical talent gap as older employees retire. Arts students may not have all the traditional skills, but they have the most important one: creativity. 
An estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day for at least the next 17 years, according to data from the Pew Research Center. And while many of them might choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, leaders everywhere are facing the same daunting issue: A great tsunami of Baby Boomer retirement is coming. Though it’s likely to reshape the workplace for years to come, many organizations say they aren’t prepared for such an unprecedented brain drain. The projections of younger workers entering the workforce are even more shocking. In fact, according to the (US) Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the 10 years between 2010 to 2020, the number of workers between the ages of 16 to 54 will decrease by about 1 million–while the number of workers over the age of 54 will increase by more than 11 million. Statistics as bracing as those have many organizations redoubling their efforts at retaining older workers. But as a leader, your biggest human capital challenge is this: Where will you find enough next-generation workers with the skills required for success? This challenge is even greater when you factor in the nature of today’s flexible and contingent labor market.
Consider this: Today’s contingent economy has people moving constantly from one job to another, one type of work to another, one industry to a different industry. In fact, on average, a person between the ages of 25 and 45 will hold 11 different jobs in their lifetime. Thirty percent of us will work in more than 15 different jobs over the course of our careers. Organizations far and wide–perhaps even yours–will compete intensely for workers who are adaptable, resourceful, and can quickly learn and apply new skills to a variety of challenges. Where can you find such workers?   One answer runs counter to much conventional wisdom: Ask an artist. . . . regardless of whether they work in the arts or in other businesses, more then three-quarters of arts graduates say that critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to work with others are skills they both learned in school and use on a regular basis in their current work. Arts graduates are plucky and understand how to use their creative skills in a variety of settings. . . . But don’t just take me at my word: No less a force in global business than IBM found, in a global study of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries, that the most important skill for successfully navigating our increasingly complex, volatile, and uncertain world is none other than creativity. . . . Is art school the next B-school? Hardly, though artists often possess the skills and temperament that business leaders regularly say are in short supply: creativity, resiliency, flexibility, high tolerance for risk and ambiguity, as well as the courage to fail.

Here’s what business leaders might consider in tapping talent from the creative economy:

  • Integrate arts on the job – The arts are not just a hobby … Arts-trained employees won’t leave their creativity at the doorstep when they join our firms or organizations. Ask them to explicitly think about puzzles using their artistic hat/lens. Invite a local theater group to work with employees on improvisation exercises to free up their creative juices. Research has shown that when people engage in improv they later generate more creative ideas to a range of issues and challenges.
  • Fail more often – Encourage employees and students to take more risks and to stretch their creativity. Give them space and permission to fail. Figure out how to incorporate critical feedback into an ongoing process of improvement and innovation. Ask an artist to come in and run a “critical feedback” workshop for employees. Or someone with design experience to help people think about “rapid prototyping” as a way to audition new ideas. Artists understand that you need to fail often in order to succeed.
  • Sit with ambiguity – Employees in a lot of settings should become more comfortable with ambiguity. In my classes, students writhe in pain when I give them an ambiguous assignment.

In a word .. .   amazing untranslatable words from around the world, Robyn Pennacchia

Check out these awesome words and phrases from around the world that express things, feelings and emotions that English just can’t.

Cavoli riscaldati (Italian) – literally, this means “reheated cabbage,” but figuratively, it means an attempt to revive a dead love affair.
Kummerspeck (German)- weight gained from emotional eating.
La douleur exquise (French)- the exquisite pain that comes from loving someone who will never love you back.
Jolie-laide (French)- This phrase in French means “ugly-pretty” meaning a type of beauty who is not conventionally attractive, but has a sort of fascinatingly quirky/unusual look that makes them even more charismatic.
Torschlusspanik– (German)- Literally, “door-shutting panic,” this phrase refers to a single woman’s fear that she is going to die alone, never have children, and probably end up being eaten by her pet chihuahua.
Saudade (Portuguese)- yearning so badly for those who are missing, or for another time and place, that absence is the most profound presence in one’s life.
Razliubit (Russian)- The bittersweet feeling of falling out of love.
Luftmensch (Yiddish)- Literally means “one who lives on air”– an impractical person who is overly dependent on their family for survival. Like some people we know.
Sobremesa (Spanish)- a little post-lunch chat with the people you just ate with
Tsundoku (Japanese)- The practice of buying a bunch of books and then not getting around to reading them.
Chantepleurer (French)- Singing and crying at the same time. Which, you know, happens sometimes at the bar around 3am.
Voorpret (Dutch)- The feeling you have just before you are about to do something fun
Tartle (Scottish)- To hesitate in recognizing someone or remembering their name
Geborgenheit (German)- the feeling that, when with a certain person or in a certain place, that nothing could ever harm you.

Your assumptions about cultural adaptation are probably wrong, Andy Molinsky

 The workplace has never been more global than today. But despite that, I often find the last thing on people’s minds when doing international work is the global element. Instead, and often for good reason, people focus on concrete and pressing work details: finishing that PowerPoint deck, running the financials one more time, or planning the logistical elements of foreign travel. As a result, they tend to follow “gut” theories — what they assume to be true about adapting behavior across cultures. The problem is that these gut instincts are often false, misleading, and difficult to apply. In studying this topic for the past decade and working with hundreds of professionals from across the globe learning to adapt behavior, I’ve identified three such “myths” of global adaptation:

Myth #1: The only thing you need to do is learn about cultural differences – Seems obvious, right? To be effective overseas, you need to learn about how cultures are different. How the Germans give feedback differently from the Chinese. How Americans tend to self-promote more than Brits, and so on. However, learning about cultural differences in theory does not necessarily translate into successful behavior in practice. In fact, it’s often quite difficult to perform behaviors you aren’t used to, even if you have an intellectual understanding of what these behaviors are supposed to be. The real key to crossing cultures isn’t learning about differences: it’s being able to adjust your behavior to actually take the differences into account.
Myth #2: When in Rome, act like the Romans – . . . what happens when acting like the Romans means violating your own personal or cultural values and identity? What if you are told to shake hands or kiss a man as part of a new culture’s ritual, but in your culture it’s forbidden for women to do so? Or as a less extreme case, what if you’re Russian, learning to interview in the U.S., and feel intensely uncomfortable with the level of self-promotion required to make a positive impression? – The point is not to completely avoid “acting like the Romans,” but it’s to develop a way to customize or personalize how you act in the new culture so you act appropriately but at the same time maintain your own personal integrity.
Myth #3: Just be yourself – I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this from managers and executives: that the key to being effective is just “being yourself.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with “being yourself,” but at the extreme, this piece of advice completely ignores the fact that there are real cultural differences you must take account for when working overseas. Ignoring them can cause tension between you and clients or coworkers. You have to find a way to be yourself, but at the same time, act within the confines of the new culture’s code of behavior.

A big welcome to Lulu at the GIBS IC Front Desk! 





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