#BetterTogether: Bringing the voice of youth into business – why it matters!

Empowering young people to be part of decision-making processes for issues that affect them is critical to helping businesses apply an intergenerational lens to complex problems.

What was discussed in the #BetterTogether COP

In this month’s #BetterTogether Know Your Customers & Communities Community of Practice (CoP), we explored why bringing the voice of youth to the table in business matters, what’s in it for young people and practical examples on how manage a Youth Panel effectively.

“Engaging with young people helps us to understand how they access services and navigate the world that they’re growing up in now which is so different to what it was 10-20 years ago.”

 – Claudia Rosario, Greater Cities Commission

Claudia Rosario, Senior Manager Engagement and Youth Panel member and co-chair Jayden Bregu at the Greater Cities Commission (GCC) joined Chris Warr, Community, Communications and Environment Lead at TasNetworks’ North West Transmission Developments participated in an interactive panel discussion.

Together, they covered everything from discussing why it matters to recruitment and governance. Read more for the top 3 questions answered.

Top 3 questions answered

1. Why is it so important to bring young people into decision-making discussions for business?

“The real value in bringing young people to the table is around the insights they share about thier lived experience.” – Claudia Rosario, Greater Cities Commission

Claudia Rosario, shared that, put simply, the world is a very different place to what it was 10, 20 or even 40 years ago and therefore the experience a young person has in this world is also very different. The work that is delivered now is going to have a significant impact on the lives of young people and future generations to come. So it’s important that they have the opportunity to contribute to the plans and policies that aim to address the complex problems we face now and into the future.

Bringing a youth voice to the table can change the way businesses think about or approach problems. It’s important to acknowledge that businesses may not have all the answers when it comes to young people. When we engage with young people about issues that matter to them, they are often tapping into insights from their wider network as young people tend to turn to their peers, colleagues and friends to discuss ideas and share knowledge.

When asked why the youth voice was different, Jayden Bregu Youth Panel member and co-chair shared:

  1. We think about our lives a lot
  2. We know what frustrates us
  3. We know what works well
  4. And we know what could improve

Jayden said, “I think it’s really important that businesses not just engage with young people because they’re going to be the users of services over a period of time, but because they have great ideas about those things. When you ask a young person a question, they are more likely to give you an uninhibited view”.

2. What’s in it for young people?

Claudia Rosario shared that engaging with young people early on in their lives also helps to build the confidence and skills to actively contribute and participate in conversations about things that are going to affect them. This could include city planning or long-term strategic issues in the energy and water sectors.

It’s a win-win scenario with shared value created by building a level of literacy around these issues early and helping young people to develop those critical thinking skills that will benefit us all into the future.

Chris Warr shared the key benefit for young people has been on capability building including:

  • Public speaking presentation skills
  • Ability to collaborate work as a diverse team
  • Critical thinking
  • Debating
  • Employment referees
  • Further opportunities including leadership training courses and media training

“It was important to involve them early, but particularly also as being a cohort that’s often left out of these types of processes as well” Chris said.

3. So, what are the mechanics of a Youth Panel?

Youth Panels are formal mechanisms that brings young people into the conversation. They can be set up to support projects or as an ongoing role to support the organization.

Greater Cities Commission Youth Panels have an ongoing role to support the organization aspects include:

  • Recruiting a diverse panel to reflect people from all walks of life through existing relationships but also through an EOI process
  • Advisory role (rather than decision making) seeking feedback and advice to inform strategies, plans and policies
  • Up to 10 youth panellists with members aged between 18 to 30 years
  • Clearly defined roles and expectations of the panel
  • Required to attend a series of meetings (approx. 4-6 per year) with pre-reading and preparation in advance
  • Required to maintain connections with the communities and groups of networks that they represent
  • Foster engagement with panel members and staff

TasNetworks youth engagement is project specific focused on community benefits sharing including:

  • “Youth panel design process” centered around the development of community benefits sharing programs
  • Professionally facilitated both in person and online meetings
  • Youth responsible for making recommendations for the development of a community benefit sharing framework around three core questions:
  1. What projects or activities could be awarded funding under that framework?
  2. Who should be awarded funding and defining those communities
  3. How the program should be delivered?

To learn more, please get in touch with Claudia Rosario, Senior Engagement Manager and Jayden Bregu, Youth Panel member and co-chair at the Greater Cities Commission and Chris Warr, Community, Communications and Environment Lead at TasNetworks.

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