Youth voices on the future of work



Meet some of the panelists from the #ImpactCOVID: virtual youth summit. We asked them for their thoughts on the future of work. Find out what they had to say.


Niya Abdullahi

What does the future of work mean to you?

The future of work is technology. Based on the way the world is currently moving forward and with the rapid advancements of Artificial Intelligence (AI), technology will be paving the way for future generations and overall economic growth. Unfortunately, AI will also eliminate many jobs that exist today. It is of primary importance that as young people we continue to gauge the prospects of various career paths before entering a particular job market. Do your research! You can find several articles online in relation to careers that may not exist in the next 4-5 years. It doesn't hurt to make decisions based on plausible forecasts. You could also reach out to those in that particular field via LinkedIn to get their perspective. If you are already in a sector that may be wiped out due to AI, it is never too late to learn a new skill, trade or follow a passion! The future of work means being able to adapt to uncertainty.


What can young people do now (during COVID-19) to prepare for the new future of work?

Many young people have found themselves with a lot of unexpected free time. This is the perfect time to work on those mini passion projects that you've always wanted to start but never had the time to begin. If you want to learn a new language, coding language or start ideating for a new business venture, this is your time! Now is your time to shine! In terms of preparing for work, there are many free online resources to learn various skills that could help prepare you for the new future of work.

It is also completely okay, if you decide to take your time at home as a time to practice mindfulness and work on yourself as we are in trying times. Some may not have very much ambition to think of the future and that is okay. Some may have difficulty getting up each and every morning due to anxiety about our world, that is completely normal. If all you accomplish in your day is binge watching a Netflix series because it helps you cope with the realities of our world, do what is best for you!


Bio

Niya Abdullahi is a technology-enthusiast, aspiring change-maker and the founder of Habasooda, a media organization dedicated to making the vastness of the Muslim experience known through film making and sharing stories. She is also a student in the Business Technology management program at Ryerson University.

Habon Ali

What does the future of work mean to you?

It is more evident than ever that we are required to confront the future of work right now. COVID-19 has catapulted us into a position where we have to acknowledge each other's humanity. The future of work means a more equitable society.

What can young people do now (during COVID-19) to prepare for the new future of work?

Young people are prepared to navigate a new world. We are used to precarious work and dealing with ambiguous situations. The question should be when is society ready to let youth take a lead and create our new normal.

Bio

Habon is the Vice-President, Equity at the University of Toronto Mississauga Students Union. Habon is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council. She researches and organizes around the barriers to accessing health care for immigrant and refugee populations in the GTA and gun violence.

Kayla Bernard

What does the future of work mean to you?

The future of work for me means learning how to adapt quickly to the ever-changing situation. As a person who works in youth programming, we are constantly listening and following the recommendations from our provincial public health officers.

For right now, that means all of our in-person programming is to stop. This led me to reach out to the youth I work with to see if they were interested in online and virtual programming. As all my work is informed by them, they lead the way. They are ready, so it’s time to adapt and learn how to do it.

I have spent the past week researching and practicing my digital literacy skills to get ready to launch programming next week. Which will be in the form of a Zoom call to allow our youth the space to check in with each other, play some games, and create art.

We are going to try our hand at bookbinding as it involves items they could easily find in their home.


What can young people do now (during COVID-19) to prepare for the new future of work?

During this time young people need to care for themselves first. Work on maintaining their mental health in a very stressful time. They can do this by following some form of a routine (even if the routine involves watching Netflix until 2 am), going out for walks, doing things they enjoy for leisure and allowing themselves to experience whatever emotions they are feeling.

As well as connecting with others, that could be through your phone, it could be talking through a window, or writing snail mail style.

Once that’s done, preparing for work can begin, and can look different depending on your interest. Maybe it's learning some digital literacy skills and learning to use new software or design programming. Or it maybe its hands-on skills like learning how to cook or bake. All skills have some transferable value in the workforce.

Bio

Kayla is a mental health advocate, especially with regards to prevention of youth suicide. She is currently a Therapeutic Recreation student at Dalhousie University, with a special interest in youth mental heath.

Kayla is a Mi’kmaq woman from the community of Sipekne’katik First Nation, currently works as a youth programmer, developing and running programs for youth in Halifax Nova Scotia. She is the founder of HeART a youth mental wellness art program for youth, by youth.

Wei “Wayne” Chou

What does the future of work mean to you?

Work was never measured in our effort, skills, or knowledge. Rather, work is measured in our ability to create value that can be appreciated by others. The future of work is no more creative and destructive than the disruptions brought by mass production, the personal computer, and the internet. The replacement of menial jobs with automation will mean that more can be accomplished by an individual with the power of technology. This is why we should focus on our ability to adapt, be flexible with acquiring new skills and be willing to fail and learn while we are still young. Like baptism by fire, we should see this pandemic as a trial run for the tougher challenges that will be thrown at us in the future.


What can young people do now (during COVID-19) to prepare for the new future of work?

We should be as open and explorative as possible and not be too old to admit that we're wrong. It's easy for me to hang myself in my own ego. It means looking for mentors that you disagree with. It means doing things that you don't like, to the point that you hate it, to the point that you know what you really, really, really, want, and then you focus on it like it's everything to you. While technology may change how we work, it won't be able to change our ability to lead. Self-awareness and self-leadership will be ever more important in the new future of work.

Bio

I'm 27. When I first came to Canada I was 6 and I barely spoke a word of English. I still remember when I was sent to detention for mispronouncing the word "ruler" for "looser". It felt like I was playing catch-up all the time. About 3 years ago I started my first start-up after completing university and unfortunately it failed in less than 4 months. Lots of learned lessons there. I'm currently the founder of a supply chain technology start-up called CargoSprout.com. Our mission is to help supply chain stakeholders collaborate and optimize for equipment downtime throughout shared transportation networks with our t