Citi helps hone young minds

Foun­da­tion is also sup­port­ing projects that help to in­spire youth to build their lead­er­ship skills

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By JIANG XUEQING jiangx­ue­qing@ chi­

The Citi Foun­da­tion in­vests in ideas and so­lu­tions to ad­dress com­plex so­cial and eco­nomic chal­lenges around the world. One of its pri­or­i­ties right now is sup­port­ing in­no­va­tive ways to train young peo­ple for em­ploy­ment and help them build an en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set by us­ing i nter­net tech­nol­ogy.

“Young peo­ple are in­creas­ingly more mo­bile than ever and are also i ncreas­ingly more con­nected through tech­nol­ogy,” said Brandee McHale, pres­i­dent of the Citi Foun­da­tion.

“I’m fas­ci­nated by the way that young peo­ple use tech­nol­ogy to sup­port one another, to share mes­sages and their sto­ries. One per­son hears some­one else did it, he or she thinks: ‘Well, I iden­tify with them.’ So tech­nol­ogy not only de­liv­ers skills train­ing but a com­mu­nity of sup­port,” she said dur­ing a re­cent visit to Bei­jing.

As the mother of three teenage chil­dren who pre­fer tex­ting her rather than talk­ing to her, she asked: “If this is how young peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate, why not build struc­tured on­line men­tor­ing pro­grams that are pow­ered by tech­nol­ogy?”

The foun­da­tion has been test­ing on­line men­tor­ing in the US, with the em­ploy­ees of Cit­i­group Inc serv­ing as men­tors. She sees the ef­fort as one of the op­por­tu­nity ar­eas in China.

“In 2017, our youth eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment i ni­tia­tive is go­ing to be a big fo­cus for us glob­ally. Here in China, con­nect­ing young peo­ple to em­ploy­ment is a pub­lic pol­icy pri­or­ity and a huge is­sue fac­ing the coun­try,” she said.

Path­ways to Progress, a flag­ship ini­tia­tive of the foun­da­tion, is de­signed to pre­pare young peo­ple for a 21st cen­tury work­force.

Apart from train­ing peo­ple for spe­cific skills in spe­cific sec­tors, t he foun­da­tion is also sup­port­ing pro­grams that help to in­spire young peo­ple to be­lieve i n their fu­ture and help them build the lead­er­ship skills, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, the prob­lem-solving skills and the abil­ity to work in teams that ev­ery em­ployer is look­ing for.

“What we’re find­ing is a big shift in the way em­ploy­ers are re­cruit­ing th­ese days … They are look­ing for peo­ple who have the sort of en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set that they walk in the door with a sense of op­ti­mism and en­thu­si­asm about their fu­ture,” she said.

In China, the Citi Foun­da­tion’s two non­profit part­ners in the field of youth econom- ic op­por­tu­ni­ties, Leping Foun­da­tion and BN Vo­ca­tional School, have been work­ing with stake­hold­ers to sup­port dis­ad­van­taged youth who have mi­grated to cities.

Both part­ners have pi­o­neered and i nno­vated i n ways to mod­ern­ize train­ing and sup­port for youth. For in­stance, em­ploy­ing the fast­grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of on­line and new me­dia por­tals to trans­form tra­di­tional train­ing into on­line mod­ules or to reach more young peo­ple in need.

“Our part­ners like Leping and BN Vo­ca­tional School aren’t j ust l ook­ing at the com­ple­tion of train­ing as the fin­ish line. They are look­ing at what other sup­port young peo­ple need in or­der to be suc­cess­ful to get a job, hold onto that job and then progress through­out their ca­reer. We’ve been shar­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of our part­ners here in China in all the 80 plus coun­tries where we have grant-mak­ing op­er­a­tions,” McHale said.

In ad­di­tion to in­vest­ing in non­profit in­no­va­tors, the foun­da­tion will sup­port more re­search ac­tiv­i­ties that help shed light on what is hap­pen­ing and sup­port fo­rums that bring to­gether stake­hold­ers to share ideas.


A Citi vol­un­teer and a stu­dent from BN Vo­ca­tional School in Bei­jing make hand-painted bags dur­ing Citi’s Global Com­mu­nity Day.

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