The rise of unemployment globally during the pandemic has dampened career outlooks, especially for youth. The latest report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) confirms that Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted young people’s economic and employment opportunities. Many young people were forced to drop out of the labor market or were unable to enter it because of lockdowns and other Covid restrictions, while others were unable to pursue education due to lost family income and the transition to distance learning.
More specifically, the “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022: Investing in transforming futures for young people” report finds that the pandemic has exacerbated the labour market challenges facing people aged 15-24 years, who have experienced a much higher percentage loss in employment than adults since early 2020. The global number of unemployed youth is estimated to reach 73 million in 2022, a slight improvement from 2021 (75 million), but still six million above the pre-pandemic level of 2019, ILO says.
At the same time, young people show a high level of interest in entrepreneurship. According to OECD’s “The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021” report, about 45% of young people say they would prefer to work as an entrepreneur rather than an employee, and 41% think it would be feasible. However, despite this high level of interest in entrepreneurship, very few young people are working on start-ups or managing businesses: only 8% of people aged 18-30 years old in the OECD countries were doing so between 2016 and 2020.
This gap is quite a drop-off from the proportion who indicate a desire to be an entrepreneur, suggesting that there is a great untapped entrepreneurial potential among youth. It also means that barriers related to lack of awareness, orientation of education and training, lack of experience and financial resources, or limited networks need to be addressed.
Unlocking youth potential and helping them develop the necessary skills to navigate a fluctuating job market environment is crucial. One of these “survival” skills is entrepreneurship, especially digital entrepreneurship, as it is an area where young people have a competitive advantage, being born in a digital environment.
Youth self-employment in digital entrepreneurship can reduce youth unemployment. Investing in digital skills’ development for young people is a win-win strategy, as it makes youth more employable and likely to succeed as digital entrepreneurs, while connecting employers to the talent they need and sparking innovation across sectors.
In this context, the Erasmus+ project “GameON: Overcome youth uNemployment through digital entrepreneurship” aims at helping young people overcome unemployment by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to become entrepreneurs in the digital sector. GameON will help youngsters overcome the difficulties they face and learn how to become entrepreneurs, especially focusing on digital entrepreneurship. As part of the project, a fully interactive simulation game will be developed focused on promoting entrepreneurship and digital business among young unemployed people. Offering 4 different scenarios, this game will allow users to develop the following skills: Entrepreneurial Mindset; Innovation and Entrepreneurship core; Business Models, Business Canvas, Business Model You for Digital Entrepreneurs; and Digital Marketing.