Designing and producing products, selling services, paying taxes, making consumer choices, critiquing marketing, and saving money are some of the ways young people affect the economy. Through education, action and empowerment, youth and economics can lead to social transformation and engagement in range of ways. Economic literacy is the start; economic engagement, critical thinking, and reimagining the economy expand from there.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”— R. Buckminster Fuller
Ways Youth are Changing the World through Economics
Youth Creating Economies — The knowledge and skills of young people today allow them to create legal economies and navigate the larger economies around them in ways never possible before. Youth creating economies are responsible for creating, designing, producing, marketing, selling and re-investing in things they care about, in ways they care for. This can change the world in powerful ways by fostering dynamic, disruptive new ways.
Youth as Teachers — Are you a driver in the economy, or a victim to the economy? Do you control your job, your income and your role in the workplace, or does some invisible force? Young people can teach their peers, younger people and adults about mindsets focused on economics. This can include community workshops for youth and adults, building lessons in how we think into early childhood development programs, teaching educators teach about learning styles and mindsets, and more.
Youth Motivators — Instead of piping false hope across social media and television, young people can promote practical hopefulness to support youth action. Actively building youth/adult partnerships, serving as a mentor, in an apprenticeship, as professional staff, and many other actions can all give young people stories to tell and lessons to share that can change the world.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Economics
Training — If we really want to promote youth engagement in the economy, we have to create training programs specifically made for youth that are not only theoretical but also practical and experiential. Appropriate financial help and mentoring by experienced practitioners are also vital.
Opportunities — Creating real programs, projects, activities and services that promote youth engagement in the economy can radically transform economies. Young people of all ages have capacities that can build economies at the local and international levels, and every point between.
Organizing — Youth-led community organizing can focus on economic justice, creating jobs, fostering local economies, and many other issues important to youth in the economy. Their action can be self-driven and assisted with adult allies, or represent youth/adult partnerships in action. With critical thinking and reflection built in, these opportunities can create new knowledge, develop new economies and foster community empowerment for everyone involved, including children and youth.
- Illegal child labor
- Youth as Workers
- Youth as Entrepreneurs
- A Short Guide to Youth Engagement in the Economy by Adam Fletcher
- “Making the economy work for youth” by the Canadian International Development Research Center
- Youth Economic Opportunities is a first community of practice and knowledge exchange portal developed by and for the youth economic opportunities sector dedicated to connecting and sharing knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned; exchanging the latest resources, jobs, and funding opportunities; and impacting the world’s 1.8 billion young people. Created by Making Cents International
- “Youth & Economy” by the Pew Research Center
- “Youth Economic Empowerment in Sierra Leone” by PLAN
- New Generation Initiative Community Engagement Guide: 1. Getting started in youth and young adult engagement by Adam Fletcher for the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in economics in your community or organization, contact us.