BTE student ambassadors share their learnings at the 2013 Annual Alliance Building & Training Session (ABTS) in Cork, Ireland. Credit: JNJ.com
What are some specific J&J programs that empower youth to play an active role in creating a healthier world?
One Young World (OYW), WISTEM2D, and Bridge to Employment (BTE) are the main J&J initiatives to help young people succeed. This year, we provided independent youth leaders with scholarships to attend the OYW Summit in October in Bogotá, Colombia together with 35 J&J delegates. In addition, the delegates and scholars will be supported through a mentoring and coaching program to guide them in enhancing the impact of their community health projects.
WISTEM2D is designed to empower and inspire young women who are interested in or already pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math, manufacturing, and design (STEM2D). Our employees are the spark — they go into classrooms to talk about their careers, conduct hands-on workshops with students, and lead inquiry-based learning to inspire students to set career goals. They guide young people in building their confidence through mentorship and project-based learning. Similarly, BTE, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, pairs J&J employees with young people to prepare them for college and their careers.
How can the private sector better respond to youth’s needs in order to achieve the SDGs?
Companies need to collaborate to make a difference for even more youth in order to have an even greater impact on school systems and communities. The SDGs are so bold that we aren’t even going to come close to accomplishing them acting alone as independent companies, NGOs, and governments. Whether it’s Microsoft, IBM, or CISCO, we all have our social impact programs and their lessons learned, and we should be combining these lessons so we can provide youth with richer experiences, whether they’re interested in IT or healthcare. That’s one of our biggest lessons moving forward.
What do you think is the most important takeaway for the global health community and the private sector on International Youth Day?
Our young people should be viewed as assets and they should be encouraged to be actively involved in designing global development policies and initiatives. For example, right now, in many parts of the world, there is a high prevalence of unemployed youth and, at the same time, a large number of open healthcare jobs. If we, as a global community, give more thought to exposing youth at a very young age to the healthcare and STEM professions and entering them into a training program early on, youth unemployment can be alleviated.