Live blog: Class of 2030 event on how business can help young people be ready for jobs of future

Students In Computer Class
Children and young people need new skills for future employment opportunities (Oando Foundation)

Children in conflicts, Discrimination of marginalised children, Education Cannot Wait, Education funding, Education in emergencies, Right to education, Sarah Brown, Sustainable Development Goals, Technology and education, Theirworld, United Nations General Assembly

With the UN meeting in New York, the Global Business Coalition for Education brings together some of the biggest names in education, business and philanthropy.

How do you prepare the young people of today to be the workforce of tomorrow?

Especially when, by 2030, half of them will not have the basic skills needed for employment. And half of all the current jobs are expected to disappear because of technology.

A high-level event in New York today will attempt to come up with some answers. Hosted by the Global Business Coalition for Education, it will highlight the leading role the private sector can play in bridging the growing skills gap.

Titled Class of 2030, this breakfast-time gathering will focus on the actions businesses can take to engage with young people. It will also look at the value of investing early, as well as in the most marginalised – including refugees.

With the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, some of the biggest names in education, business and philanthropy have been brought together in one room.

All times given are local New York times.

6.30am: It’s UN General Assembly time – so everyone is up and about early this morning! Guests are arriving already and some serious networking is going on in the room.

We will have more than 130 high-level representatives from business, philanthropy and donor agencies at this event.


The Global Business Coalition has been working to help children get into school around the world. Education is vital, especially in emergencies – here’s a class at Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya (Faith Ocharo)

6.50am: The format for this event is a panel of eminent speakers, followed by a lively, fast-paced conversation to take in as many different viewpoints as possible.

The Global Business Coalition for Education is a group of more than 100 businesses who believe the private sector has a vital role to play in increasing the number of children and youth who are in school and learning.

7.10am: The event gets underway with opening remarks by Ed Estrada, a partner in the law firm Reed Smith, whose offices we are in today. He says: “Five years ago, Reed Smith was proud to be one of the founding members of GBC-Education. We know that the business community has a collective role to make sure that young people have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to participate in the local and global workforce.”

Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of GBC-Education, welcomes everyone to the event. She says: “GBC-Education is very much about the public and private sectors coming together – and that is what makes this group quite unique.”

Sarah Brown high fives a child

Sarah Brown high fives a child in Lebanon (Theirworld)

Sarah asks Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to shed some light on the big picture of education for refugees and the role of business.

He says: “In the brief few minutes we are talking here today, probably 150 children will become displaced or become refugees. Education is probably the most penalised and disadvantaged part of aid.”

7.15am: Sarah then pays tribute to Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. She says: “Irina has been a fearless leader of education –  she is one of the people that championed all of us when we were just starting to talk about things.

She asks Sylvia Kakyo and Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu – two of the network of Global Youth Ambassadors for the children’s charity Theirworld – to present a special award to the UNESCO chief.

Irina Bokova Gets Her Theirworld Award From Gyas Joannes And Sylvia With Sarah Brown

Irina Bokova gets her Theirworld award from Global Youth Ambassadors Joannes and Sylvia, watched by Sarah Brown (Lana Wong)

Accepting the award, Bokova says: “Now we have a global movement for education. We have created a paradigm shift to make governments and societies accountable to what they do for education.”

New members announced

7.30am: Sarah welcomes four new members who have joined GBC-Education this year – BHP Billiton, Voith, KPMG and Deloitte. 

She says: “I want to recognise Voith for their contributions with GBC-Education and Theirworld in Tanzania, where we are now running Code Clubs for girls who are learning coding in after-school programming with Kano and our other partners. We’re documenting the lessons from these pilots to help scale up efforts.”

Code Clubs Tanzania 3

Girls learn new digital skills at one of the Code Clubs in Tanzania (Theirworld / Mticka Almas)

Sarah turns to Karen Wood, chairman of the BHP Billiton Foundation, and asks what it hopes to achieve by working with GBC-Education.

She says: “The people most at risk and the people with the most to gain must come together.”

Now we hear from Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. He lists some of the emergency situations that have uprooted children and disrupted their education.

He adds: “70% of children in 2030 in Africa will not have the qualifications that are necessary for the workplace of the future.”

Gordon Brown At Gbc Education Event

Gordon Brown talks about the need for African children to learn relevant skills (Lana Wong)

7.25am: Syliva and Joannes present an award to Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and now a member of the influential Education Commission.

Joannes says: “In the last year, he has travelled to over 15 countries to share the Learning Generation vision with presidents and prime ministers to encourage them to reform and invest in their education systems. He is now working with countries on delivery labs to make education deliver results.”

Sylvia says: “He’s not stopping. He wants to ensure every leader in the continent is making the Learning Generation a priority.”

Gyas Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu And Sylvia Kakyo With Jakaye Kikwete At Gbc Education Event

Global Youth Ambassadors Joannes and Sylvia with Jakaya Kikwete (Lana Wong)

President Kikwete accepts the award and says: “I was just doing my job and not expecting any reward.” Talking about his work with the Education Commission’s Learning Generation report, he adds: “I took to the roads, to spread the message – it has been received very well. They are ready to take action.”

7.30am: The Global Partnership for Education works in some of the poorest countries in the world. It has a major appeal for replenishment of funds coming up soon – so GPE Chair Julia Gillard explains what’s happening next for the organisation.

Education in emergencies

7.35am – Sarah hands over to Tom Fletcher, Director of Global Strategy for GB-Ed and former British ambassador to Lebanon, for the next section of today’s event about GBC-Education’s commitment to education in emergencies – including conflicts and naturals disasters.

Children need to be in school quickly in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis to help them recover from trauma, feel safe and avoid dropping out of education and into child labour, early marriage or exploitation.

Yemen School 2

Education in emergencies is vital for children, like these students in conflict-torn Yemen (UNICEF / Farid)

Tom turns first to Gus Schmedlen, Vice President of Wordlwide Education for HP. He announces the launch of HP School Cloud, which will provide access to educational materials and apps to students, teachers and adult learners in rural and poor communities around the world.

A new partnership is announced that will see GBC-Education work with RELX Group and LexisNexis Risk Solutions to create a digital platform that will match emergency relief needs in countries to corporate assets.

Tom says: “We can match, deploy and track partnerships and this is hard-wired in with the Education Cannot Wait Fund. 

Christos Stylianides – the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management – is asked what the EU is doing for education in emergencies.

He says Europe’s “obsession” with education will continue and pledges more EU funds, adding: “Education in emergencies remains largely under-funded. We all need to do more.”

He announces the EU will give an additional $11million to the Education Cannot Wait fund and will commit to putting 8% of its humanitarian aid in 2018 to education.

Christos Stylianides At The Gbc Education Event

EU humanitarian commissioner Christos Stylianides addresses the event (Lana Wong)

Denmark has been a big supporter of education in emergencies. Development Cooperation Minister Ulla Tømaes says: “We need to do something extra to make sure education changes the world. On top of what we are already doing we will commit another $16 million for 2016-17 for Education Cannot Wait.”

7.40am: Yasmine Sherif has been the Director of the Education Cannot Wait fund for several months and has been to several countries such as Iraq and Uganda. Tom asks how the fund will work with the private sector and what results are being delivered.

She says: “Education represents hope – it prevents you from remaining in an indefinite state of suffering. Yet only 3.6% of humanitarian aid goes to education.

“Education is the only investment you can make to give them hope.”

The global displacement of people includes millions of Palestinians who would be out of school if it were not for the UN agency UNRWA.

Its Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl, talks about the need for sustained investment from public and private sector to help young Palestinians.

He says: “Let us match the courage that these students show, by the strength of our commitments to defending their right to access education. 

Finally in this education in emergencies section is Annemiek Hoogenboom, Country Director of the People’s Postcode Lottery UK. As one of the largest private donors in the world, she has travelled to see projects in Lebanon, where young people have been uprooted from Syria.

She adds: “We bring the message that ordinary citizens can contribute to help kids far away from their own communities.”

Youth skills

7.50am: Sarah Brown is our host again for this part of the event. She says: “We are now going to shift focus to the rest of the class of 2030.   The young people around the world who are entering school – or should be entering school – this month for the first time, and what their realities will look like when they graduate.” 

Youth Skills 5

Teaching children the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow is vital (UNICEF / Mawa)

She introduces Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Affairs and President of the Intel Foundation.

Rosalind announces the launching today of the new Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative, which will have a commission, youth network and youth council. Learn more about the initiative.

It brings together youth, industry leaders and experts to create solutions and take action to support the development of “new basic skills” needed by the next generation of innovators, makers and entrepreneurs. It will also aim to bridge the current gap between business and young people.

8am: Rosalind says she is delighted to introduce Jamira Burley, a Forbes 30 under 30 change-maker who will head up the young people’s side of initiative as GBC-Education’s Head of Youth Engagement and Skills.

She welcomes four panellists to the stage. They are Kate James, Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing Officer at Pearson; Alistair Burt, UK Minister for International Development; Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares; and Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Limited.

Jamira asks Kate James about what business can do today to anticipate the future workforce. She replies: “We are working with social entrepreneurs and learning from these people, who are often young. They are brave and they are constantly innovating.”

Alistair Burt talks about the UK’s work with education and the private sector. He says: “Simply putting youngsters into school is not enough if it is to truly equip them for the jobs of the future. Governments don’t always know best – so working with people is the way forward.”

Dubai Cares works across the Middle East and in countries in the developing world. Talking about the need for youth skills, CEO Tariq Al Gurg says: “We need a system change. We want to invent this within the education system.” He says skill labs and business clubs are ways to doing that.

Bob Collymore talks about working proactively with young people. He tells about a 12-year-old girl from rural Kenya whose biggest worries are female genital mutilation and child marriage. He says Safaricom is working to help children think about overcoming these challenges in new ways.

Jamira Burley At Gbc Education Event

Jamira Burley is chairing this section of the event (Lana Wong)

8.15am: Jamira opens the discussion on delivering the right new skills to young people to the floor.

First up is Toni Townes-Whitley, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, who says: “We are about bringing the most innovative solutions to the market. It’s about getting technology to students that allows them to personalise their education.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Senior Advisor at Lazard and Chair of the vaccines organisation GAVI, says the key question that has to be answered by everyone is: “How do we learn how to learn?”

Tone Skogen, Norway’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, says: “We do not know what the future labour market will need and will look like. That is a good reason to think outside the box and work in partnerships.” 

The global marketing company Omnicom has entered into a partnership with the children’s charity Theirworld. Janet Riccio, Dean at Omnicom University and Executive Vice President of Omnicom, talks about the average of of the company’s 75,000 employees – just 32. She adds: “Creating a culture of collaboration and a shared set of values and purpose contribute to our ability to attract and retain young talent.”

Lord Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick is the Head of Global Citizenship at KPMG International. He says we need to remove the myth that only those with qualifications can teach children – parents, families and others can also play their part.

8.25am: Tom Fletcher is back on the microphone. He talks about the children from Mexico City who died when an earthquake destroyed their school. Everyone in the room joins in a few moments silence for the victims,.

With that, this fantastic event wraps up. We’ve learned so much about what’s being done to help deliver education in emergencies and how the business sector is working to help young people get the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

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