It's convocation season. Post-secondary students emerge from their parents' basements to receive degrees and prepare to join the "real" world. Or do they?
The real world now has the largest generation aged 15-24 in history. Last year, 75-million young people were unemployed globally, according to the World Bank. And as the EU struggles with austerity measures and high unemployment rates for millennials, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Youth hopes officials will invest in job creation and education so that an entire generation is not lost to a debt crisis.
Investing in young people can encompass a number of strategies. Taken literally, investing in young entrepreneurs boosts the national economy and lowers youth unemployment rates. Mentorship is a more informal way to offer practical experience and advice in a young person's field of interest.
Meanwhile, in developing communities, investing in education -- even primary education -- dramatically increases economic and social capital, and even lowers health care costs.
That's why J.R. Martinez calls youth the secret investment that will change the world.
When U.S. Army veteran and motivational speaker Martinez appeared at We Day Seattle, he took time backstage to talk about investing in youth and the importance of involving young people in social change.
Craig and Marc Kielburger are founders of international charity and educational partner, Free The Children. Its youth empowerment event, We Day, is in eight cities across Canada this year, inspiring more than 100,000 attendees. For more information, visit www.weday.com