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GreenBizHow Companies Can Help to Bridge the Global Skills Gap

This article originally appeared on GreenBiz.com 

 

17 December 2012 – With the world’s major economies still stuttering, and recent figures suggesting that growth in Asia’s emerging economies has slowed, it’s not a surprise that jobs are back on the agenda. Questions are being asked as to how tens of millions of jobs will be maintained – jobs that have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

Making headway in the jobs arena will require different actors within society (government, global companies, civil society, external agencies and individuals) working together in a complementary way that often seems beyond their scope.

Individual companies can make a difference, even if large-scale societal change proves elusive. Whether through a more egalitarian approach to recruitment, rejecting corruption or taking steps themselves to build their employees’ skills, employers can play their part. In the process, they can show that they are a potent force for social good.

Indeed, the skills gap is at the heart of the employment challenge for many young people. It’s also of direct relevance to companies aspiring to grow their operations.

Earlier this year, GlobeScan was commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to conduct a series of focus groups for its 2012 Global Monitoring Report about young people, education and job skills. We spoke to more than 100 young people from impoverished and marginalized communities in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, the U.K. and Vietnam. We aimed to get a better understanding of their experiences with developing job skills – and identify gaps between their skill sets and those required to find jobs. We also asked the youth what could be done for those in their peer group to attain these skills. And we also sought to uncover barriers to gaining job skills.

Understanding these youth perspectives is key for global companies interested in developing a thriving workforce for the future.

When GlobeScan finished our focus group discussions, we took away a powerful sense that the issue of education and skills would only grow in importance as the global economy continues to struggle and the needs of employers evolve.

We know through our regular tracking of global public attitudes that jobs and skills development are among the topics that most preoccupy people -- particularly in the developing world.

While there is a need for companies to make their operations more environmentally sustainable, there is also a strong demand for them to make long-term commitments for cohesive and sustainable communities by investing in people.

“The biggest problem is of unemployment -- in the absence of employment, what can poor people do for living?” a young person in India told us. “Even educated people who have degrees don’t get jobs.”

Problems, barriers to employment are interconnected

The problems and barriers faced by young people in finding gainful employment are interconnected. In many of the countries we studied, the state was not sufficiently involved in addressing these problems and civil society was disempowered to do so. State education was often underfunded, and teachers demotivated.

If there was a consistently held view that the state should step in to help young people make their way in the job market, there was very little faith – particularly in countries like Ethiopia – that it would do so. The young people we spoke to often felt they were on their own.

These challenges present opportunities for the private sector to step in. If companies take the attitude of investing in a community -- rather than simply recruiting a workforce -- they would make headway towards bridging this gap.

While employers complain of a skills gap, the young people we spoke to rarely saw their own problems in securing stable employment as being primarily as a result of not possessing skills. Some felt that English language skills or computer knowledge would help. More often, though, they saw a lack of work experience in itself as a barrier towards getting jobs. They felt caught in a catch-22 situation where potential employers were only willing to consider candidates with extensive and highly specific experience in the same sector.

One respondent in Egypt summed up how they saw the problem: “They want someone who is going to work for them to be fully experienced -- they are not willing to give us either the time or the chance to learn the job requirements while working.”

Is this an unrealistic and shortsighted view from employers? The youth in our focus groups certainly thought so. For companies moving into developing markets, it’s surely not the way to develop a robust workforce. This outlook facilitates a situation that is unsustainable for employers and potential employees.

Corruption only makes the situation worse. Those without useful “connections” often feel shut out – and start to look for ways to escape, such as emigration, marrying wealthy foreigners or through the black economy. Far-reaching and fundamental structural changes to state and society are needed to address this problem. Companies wanting to play a constructive role in economic development ought to keep in mind this vicious cycle and avoid perpetuating it.

Another opportunity for the private sector to play a role where the state is failing is to establish strong partnerships between employers and schools. With apprenticeship programs, partnerships with educational establishments, scholarships and work experience programs, a skills bridge can be created between education and work. It’s likely that such efforts by companies will be welcomed: Education is the area where there is the greatest expectation for companies to play a role in the community.

What many youth we spoke to wanted more than anything was a sense of control and agency over their own lives. Many have big dreams, but felt that their situation was so precarious that these had to take a back seat to daily survival concerns.

Companies have an integral role to play in removing the barriers to obtaining work for these youth through education and other forms of community investment. By doing so, they will not only help to develop their own future workforce – but also assist in bridging the skills gap.

 

Read this article on GreenBiz.com

 


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For More Information, Please Contact:

  • Robin Miller, Manager, Marketing and Communications, +1 519-378-3698, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around and beyond their organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com

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GS-SA-logosCollaborating for a Sustainable Future: A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey


12 December 2012 – 
The latest GlobeScan SustainAbility Survey finds that, despite a poor track record by governments, most experts believe that the most effective way that companies can advance the sustainable development agenda is by working with multiple actors—including governments. Relatively few SD experts think progress will be best made through partnerships that do not include governments or by companies acting alone.

The findings are drawn from a GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey of sustainability experts across corporate, government, NGO, and academic organizations in 74 countries. Nearly 800 experts were surveyed online by GlobeScan and SustainAbility in September 2012.

The most effective forms of partnership are seen to be those that focus in on a single issue or purpose, rather than those that seek to address a broader set of topics. Despite this singularity, experts expect all of the forms of collaboration that are examined in the survey to become more common over the next five years.

Thanks to a collaboration with the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria, this latest GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey includes a significantly increased number of experts responding from Sub-Saharan Africa.

To read more about what SD experts think about partnership, including what specific issues can be best tackled through collaboration, the business case for collaborating, and the ideal attributes of different types of partners, click to hear to access our brief report or view the video below.

Frances Buckingham, Manager, SustainAbility, highlights findings from the 2012 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey on Collaboration
 

For More Information, Please Contact:


About The GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey

The GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey research program is a unique, collaborative platform using research-driven expert insights to explore solutions to material sustainability challenges. The program is designed to help leaders navigate the challenges and opportunities related to sustainability by leveraging the insights from the most influential thought leaders in the sustainable development arena. These quantitative results then inform forward-looking strategic counsel and ongoing trends analysis for leadership organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com/expertise/trends/globescan-sustainability-survey.html 

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around and beyond their organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com 

About SustainAbility

SustainAbility is a think-tank and strategic advisory firm working to inspire transformative business leadership on the sustainability agenda. Established in 1987, SustainAbility delivers illuminating foresight and actionable insight on sustainable development trends and issues.

For more information, visit www.SustainAbility.com 

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The Regeneration Roadmap1GS-SA-logosMining Industry Experts Gather to Help Set the State of Sustainable Development 

27 November 2012 - The Regeneration Roadmap recently co-hosted an event with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). The discussion was chaired by SustainAbility’s Rob Cameron and accompanied by esteemed panellists Anthony Hodge, president of ICMM and Tom Burke, Chief Environmental Policy Advisor at Rio Tinto. This was an opportunity for key figures in the mining industry and in the field of sustainable development more broadly to react to some of the findings of The Regeneration Roadmap. While the Salon ostensibly had a mining focus the issues discussed went beyond narrow industry-specifics, encompassing some of the more macro challenges faced by all industries in confronting issues of climate change, development and social well-being.

The discussion was opened with an introduction to The Regeneration Roadmap and some of its insights. Chris Coulter, GlobeScan President, shared the latest quantitative expert and global public opinion findings to help set the state of sustainable development.

"The extractive industry has been at the forefront of addressing sustainable development challenges for many decades,” said Chris. “The perspectives shared at the ICMM meeting have broad applicability to The Regeneration Roadmap's goal of accelerating sustainable business leadership in the next five years."

The survey of sustainability experts shows that while there is a clear expectation that governments should be exerting greater leadership, there is great disappointment in the performance of government, leaving a growing expectation that the private sector must fill some of this leadership gap. While dramatic solutions rather than incremental steps are generally seen as what is required, a lack of political will and vested interests and the complexity of the challenges present the most significant obstacles to this. 

TRP2012 Q2
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Additionally, while business is starting to make its voice heard, it, like government, still suffers from a trust deficit. It is problematic for governments and businesses to be at odds with each other and a hopeful sign is that collaboration is seen as a possible solution. Despite this a sense of optimism about the future persists, particularly in developing markets but also elsewhere, and there may be some low-hanging levers of change to be grasped in terms of high levels of trust in scientists and academic institutions among the global public.

R12W1 1
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The existing and future role of government came in for a great deal of focus throughout the discussion. While governments are rated highly on expectations to move the sustainability agenda forward they are perceived very poorly in their actual performance. But the question was raised - who exactly do we mean by ‘government’? There is often a disparity between very dedicated and committed civil and public servants and short-termist ‘politicians’ who are seen to hold the process up. There was some interest in possible future studies exploring the clarity around who in government is doing well, who is not, how we hold them to account, and how can we make use of those within government who are committed to making a real impact. 

There also seems to be a strategic tension between ‘holistic’ and ‘focused’ approaches among businesses. It was noted that previously the issue was around ‘climate change’ as an imminent disaster facing every business, government and individual equally, however, it seems to have broken down into a myriad of individual environmental and societal issues that businesses focus on specifically. ‘Focus, focus, focus’ has become the mantra for many industries in recent years but it is worth considering whether this works to the detriment of more collaborative and all-encompassing approaches; to break down the wider environmental issue into multiple strands may be to ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ that is the imminent macro-threat of climate change itself.

There is a broad consensus that collaboration is absolutely essential but it hasn’t quite gained momentum yet. It is fundamentally difficult for companies, governments, and other actors to work together. This is an issue of cutting across global and corporate cultural barriers and creating a new culture of collaboration.

Cultural barriers are also not the only obstacle. Sustainability initiatives are simply not attractive at the moment. Top-down agreements are very hard to implement let alone achieving broad consensus and cooperation. What is needed is the enthusiasm from the bottom up which is how scaled change takes place. There is a sense that, in trying to stress the importance of sustainability and the dangers of climate change we are ‘selling them the journey and not the beach’. It could be a fruitful exercise to stress the benefits of creating a more sustainable and equitable world rather than purely focusing on the dangers of not doing so.

While consensus across the issues raised is often hard to find, there is little doubt that collaboration and dialogue, including between societal actors traditionally at odds with one another, must be an essential component if real solutions are to be pursued.

“The Regeneration Roadmap aims to create a new pathway for sustainability leadership,” said Rob Cameron, Executive Director at Sustainability. “It will succeed in its aims if it can bring influencers and businesses together to co-create the way forward. The ICMM meeting proved to be an ideal forum to achieve this - and rightly so given the importance of the extractive industries in creating a sustainable future."

Through our on-going and future events in Beijing, Shanghai, San Francisco and Mumbai, The Regeration Roadmap will continue working to facilitate and consolidate this dialogue. 


For More Information, Please Contact:

Robin Miller, Manager, Marketing and Communications
GlobeScan Inc.
+1 416 962 0707
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About The Regeneration Roadmap

The Regeneration Roadmap is a collaborative and multi-faceted initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility that aims to provide a roadmap for achieving sustainable development within the next generation, focusing in particular on ways the private sector can improve sustainable development strategy, increase credibility and deliver results at greater speed and scale. The project is presented by BMW Group and SC Johnson and sponsored by DuPont, Cisco, Interface and Pfizer, and supported by many other partners including UNEP, National Geographic and the World Bank.

For more information and a complete list of supporters, visit www.TheRegenerationRoadmap.com 

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around, and beyond their organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com

About SustainAbility

SustainAbility is a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to inspire transformative business leadership on the sustainability agenda. Established in 1987, SustainAbility delivers illuminating foresight and actionable insight on sustainable development trends and issues.

For more information, visit www.SustainAbility.com

About ICMM

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) was established in 2001 to improve sustainable development performance in the mining and metals industry. Today, it brings together many of the world’s largest mining and metals companies as well as national and regional mining associations and global commodity associations. ICMM’s vision is one of leading companies working together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining, minerals and metals to sustainable development.

For more information, visit www.ICMM.com 

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Nigerian Women in Informal Settlements Face Daily Challenges in Sanitation and Security

11 December 2012 - A recent GlobeScan study of Nigerian women living in urban slums has highlighted the risks they run to their health and personal safety by using informal and outside toilet facilities – and the challenges associated with lack of adequate infrastructure in many developing nations.

GlobeScan was engaged by WaterAid to conduct a poll of women living in informal settlements in and around Lagos relating to access to sanitation and levels of concern around violence and intimidation towards women in this context. The research was intended to inform WaterAid’s media outreach and campaigning work around World Toilet Day 2012.

We found that, while informal and outside facilities were the most commonly used by women in informal settlements, these were also the kind of facilities where they felt the least safe (67% report feeling unsafe) and 60% reported the public toilets they use are generally unhygienic.

Our study found that many women felt compelled to use informal our outside facilities because of the cost of accessing public toilets. According to GlobeScan’s Radar tracking of public opinion across 20+ countries, unemployment and poverty are dominant concerns in Nigeria. This is borne out by the high proportion of women (67%) who report that the cost of using public facilities is a problem for them.

There is an extremely high demand among the women we surveyed (89%) who consider greater government investment in sanitation, even in relation to other problems such as education and transport infrastructure, to be “very important”.

Asked to give examples of harassment they had suffered, most examples given cited instances of intimidation or verbal harassment, which tended to relate to the tensions of close quarter living and sharing of facilities,

“People will insult you as if you are not human beings and neighbours”

Or male harassment and invasion of privacy,

“My neighbour or people passing will start staring at you and some will stare like they want to come and rape you.” 

WA2012 Q1

WA2012 Q6

About the Study

The poll was conducted between the 18th and 22nd of October 2012, using purposive sampling among a sample of 500 female adults (18-54). Face-to-face interviews were conducted in the urban slums of Ajegunle, Ijora Badia, Oko Agbon, and Otto-Oyingbo, in and around Lagos. In order to ensure the respondents felt at ease, given the sensitivity of the subject-matter, the interviewers ensured them of the confidentiality of their responses and the protection of their anonymity. Respondents were also provided with the details of local community organisations with whom they could, if needed, discuss their experiences further and seek support.

Read the full report here.


For More Information, Please Contact:

Robin Miller, Manager, Marketing and Communications
GlobeScan Inc.
+1 416 962 0707
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around, and beyond their organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com

About WaterAid

WaterAid are an international non-governmental organisation. Their mission is to improve access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities. WaterAid also work locally and internationally to change policy and practice and ensure that water, hygiene and sanitation's vital role in reducing poverty is recognised.

For more information, visit www.WaterAid.org 

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The Regeneration RoadmapAs Holiday Shopping Season Begins, Study Finds Consumers Buying Less and Buying Better, While Price, Performance and Credibility Remain Barriers to Further Growing Sustainable Consumption 

27 November 2012 - On the eve of the holiday shopping season, a new study by The Regeneration Roadmap - a joint project by GlobeScanSustainAbility, and BBMG - finds that consumers are rethinking consumption with sustainability in mind. According to The Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (66%), and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (65%). The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

Rethinking Consumption Consumers and the Future of Sustainability The Regeneration Roadmap
Click to read the full report

The affinity toward sustainable consumption is being led by consumers in developing markets (Brazil, China, India), who are more than twice as likely as their counterparts in developed markets (Germany, UK, US) to report purchasing products because of environmental and social benefits (51% to 22%, respectively), being willing to pay more for sustainable products (60% to 26%) and encouraging others to buy from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible (70% to 34%).

However, significant barriers to sustainable purchasing remain for consumers across all markets, including perceptions of product performance, high prices, skepticism about product claims and a lack of knowledge about what makes a product socially or environmentally responsible.

"Consumers are seeking brands that can improve their own lives while creating a more sustainable economy that can benefit all," said Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of brand innovation consultancy BBMG. "While there is strong interest in purchasing more sustainable products, perceptions around price, performance and skepticism about product claims remain top barriers to action."

“The Regeneration Consumer Study shows sustainability is fast becoming a key factor when it comes to consumers’ purchasing decisions, yet there are still barriers that need to be addressed,” said Kelly M. Semrau, Chief Sustainability Officer, at SC Johnson. “At SC Johnson, we are committed to learning more, so that we can create better products for consumers around the globe.”

"We believe understanding people's aspirations around consumerism and sustainability is an important area of inquiry,” said Ursula Mathar, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Protection, at BMW Group. “This topic requires a great deal more understanding in order to increase sustainable consumption, which is why BMW Group supports The Regeneration Consumer Study."

Key Findings from the Regeneration Consumer Study:

  • Consuming Less, Consuming Better: While 66% of consumers across the six countries surveyed believe in consuming less, the pattern varies across markets, with 76% of consumers in developing markets and 57% in developed markets being inclined to believe that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations.” Similarly, consumers in emerging markets are much more likely than consumers in developed markets to “feel a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (82% to 49%, respectively).
  • Shifting Perceptions: Views on Price, Performance and Credibility Most Frequently Undermine Sustainable Purchasing: A majority of consumers globally agree or strongly agree that they would “purchase more products that are environmentally and socially responsible” if they “performed as well as, or better than, products they usually buy” (75%), “it didn’t cost more” (70%), “companies’ health and environmental claims were more believable” (64%), they “had a better understanding of what makes products environmentally or socially responsible” (63%), or they “could see environmental or social benefits of the products right away” (63%). Price is the top barrier to green purchasing in developed markets (78%) while product performance (74%) is the top barrier in developing markets along with needing “a better understanding of what makes products socially and environmentally responsible” (72%).
  • Collaboration and Participation – Being Part of the Solution: Two-thirds of consumers globally (67%) are “interested in sharing their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions,” while seven in ten consumers (72%) globally “believe in voting and advocating for issues important to me.”

"With the Regeneration Consumer Study, our goal is to bring the consumer voice into the sustainability conversation and help articulate specific decisions and actions that companies can take to accelerate and grow a more sustainable economy," said Eric Whan, GlobeScan’s Director of Sustainability. “With data-driven ideas, we want to help companies make the business case for sustainable development and advance the creation and deployment of more sustainable products, policies and practices."

"Our economy and natural environment are facing unprecedented stresses as scarce resources are stretched to meet growing needs,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility. “Through the Regeneration Consumer Study, we are revealing how consumer attitudes, behaviors and collaboration can help enterprising brands as they work to innovate smarter, safer, cleaner and greener solutions."

Background and Methodology:

Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

Presenting Sponsors of The Regeneration Roadmap are BMW Group and SC Johnson. Sponsors include Cisco, DuPont, Interface and Pfizer. The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, Itau, L’Oréal, Shell and Starbucks.

For more information, and to download a free copy of the study, click here.
 

For More Information, Please Contact:

McKee Floyd, BBMG: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +1 212 473 4902 x201

Robin Miller, GlobeScan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +1 416 962 0707

Geoff Kendall, SustainAbility: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +44 (0) 207 269 6900


About The Regeneration Roadmap

The Regeneration Roadmap is a collaborative and multi-faceted initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility that aims to provide a roadmap for achieving sustainable development within the next generation, focusing in particular on ways the private sector can improve sustainable development strategy, increase credibility and deliver results at greater speed and scale. The project is presented by BMW Group and SC Johnson and sponsored by DuPont, Cisco, Interface and Pfizer, and supported by many other partners including UNEP, National Geographic and the World Bank.

For more information and a complete list of supporters, visit www.TheRegenerationRoadmap.com 

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around, and beyond their organizations.

For more information, visit www.GlobeScan.com

About SustainAbility

SustainAbility is a think tank and strategic advisory firm working to inspire transformative business leadership on the sustainability agenda. Established in 1987, SustainAbility delivers illuminating foresight and actionable insight on sustainable development trends and issues.

For more information, visit www.SustainAbility.com

About BBMG

Based in New York City, BBMG is a brand and innovation consultancy dedicated to creating disruptive business solutions and delightful brand experiences to help brands achieve business success and positive social impact. By integrating branding with sustainability expertise and innovation protocols, BBMG helps organizations identify growth opportunities, forge new markets, create new brands and drive real culture change.

For more information, visit www.BBMG.com 

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