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Empowering Gen Z with four future-fit skills for the workplace


Unlocking future workplace opportunities requires upskilling at scale. Unilever is working to ensure 10 million young people are equipped by 2030. Discover the skills employers want and why they matter, according to Nitin Paranjpe, Chief People & Transformation Officer.

Young people learning from colourful stickers glued on glass wall during collaborative process in office

In a recent survey of global employers, 44% said they expect job disruption in the next five years, and with it, a shortage of the skills needed for workers and business to thrive.

At present, however, the skills gap is wide, with research showing 75% of 15- to 24-year-olds are off-track in having the expertise to take advantage of future opportunities.

Unilever has committed to changing that by empowering 10 million young people with essential employment skills by 2030.

“Skills such as ingenuity, our ability to adapt and innovate, resourcefulness and resilience are the threads that will guide us toward a better future,” Nitin Paranjpe, Unilever’s Chief People & Transformation Officer, told 2,000 young leaders at this year’s One Young World Summit.

Here are four ways Unilever is developing these, at scale:

  1. Resilience through self-esteem

    Dove Self-Esteem Project

    Globally, eight in ten girls with low body esteem will opt out of fundamental life activities. The Dove Self-Esteem Project’s education programmes provide free confidence-building workshops for classrooms and educational activities for parents, mentors and youth leaders to help the next generation reach their full potential.

    To date, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has reached 94 million people. Its stretch target is 250 million by 2030. Courses have been designed to engage 10 million young people in India, Indonesia and Brazil. And digital e-learning platforms aim to reach 16 million 15- to 24-year-olds across India by 2025.

    Why resilience matters: In the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2023, resilience ranked third in its top ten core skills. “One needs resilience – a tenacious refusal to give up, stemming from a deep belief in our capacity to overcome obstacles and forge a brighter future,” Nitin says.

  2. Innovation and problem-solving

    Future-X Unilever Campus Ambassador Programme

    Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 49.8% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

    Unilever Nigeria’s nine-month Future-X Unilever Campus Ambassador Programme aims to harness that entrepreneurial spirit by teaching young people professional skills to encourage growth and innovation.

    In 2023, Future-X Unilever Campus Ambassador Programme partnered with Yoma, an e-education platform, to give more students access to courses. The goal is to upskill 700,000 young people and reach 3 million over three years.

    Why innovation and problem-solving matter: Creative thinking ranked second in WEF’s top ten skills. “The problems that plague our world are immense, but they’re also immense opportunities for the daring and the innovative,” Nitin says.

    Young woman leader in jeans and t-shirt speaking to a group that has gathered round to listen
  3. Using resourcefulness to mobilise climate change

    DIG and the Global Volunteer Initiative

    Our Dirt Is Good brand, including OMO and Persil, is working to expand the Global Volunteering Initiative which currently empowers 12.5 million volunteers in 40 countries.

    The partners aim to mobilise 1.1 million young people in India and Brazil to design and lead climate change campaigns on local issues.

    Managing community volunteers requires resourcefulness. It develops transferable skills such as flexibility and communication and drives awareness among local people. The project’s goal is to reach 5 million through the impact of these actions.

    Why resourcefulness matters: “If we embrace these challenges as opportunities, together, we can continue to shape a world that reflects the very best of humanity,” Nitin says.

    The 24 young leaders who are part of Unilever’s Changemaker’s Programme for 2023, attending the One Young World Summit in Belfast
  4. Encouraging ingenuity

    Unilever’s Changemakers programme

    Unilever is also working to develop its own talent via a 12-month development programme called Changemakers. Each year, 24 young leaders work in squads on four real-life business challenges, guided by in-house mentors. The goal is to use their skills to drive tangible impact and provide sustainable business value within Unilever.

    Why ingenuity matters: “The current challenges we are addressing today require innovative solutions that encompass systemic thinking, given their complex interconnectedness,” Nitin says. “Yet, there is no reason to believe that we don’t have the ingenuity to do so. We certainly do. All that is needed is to channel our near-infinite resourcefulness. Work together. That is a force multiplier,” he adds.

    Harnessing these qualities can pave the way forward, unlocking the potential for extraordinary solutions to the most pressing challenges of our times.

    Nitin Paranjpe, Chief People & Transformation Officer

Developing talent is a win–win

Upskilling young people is more than an investment in their personal development. According to WEF, it has the potential to add $6.5 trillion to global GDP by 2030. It also provides businesses like Unilever with diverse talent to develop more inclusive, sustainable economies. “Harnessing these qualities can pave the way forward,” says Nitin, “unlocking the potential for extraordinary solutions to the most pressing challenges of our times.”

To explore opportunities for young leaders to build their career and skills at Unilever, visit Future U Hub.

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