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Lagarde—Lending an Ear to Young Voices


June 9, 2017

As Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde travels the world engaging with country officials, civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and media representatives. Lagarde also makes a point to engage with women and youth groups, to listen to their concerns, and to discuss their vision for their countries.

In this podcast, Lagarde reveals what she has learned from young people about how they view their future in the workplace and in society, and shares her thoughts about the policies that might help them better adapt to the changing nature of work.

“What I have observed is that young people all have a concern about what their future will be,” she says. “They ask: where will I fit into society? What good will I do if and when I join the labor market, or when I start my enterprise?”

Lagarde says that while these concerns vary depending on where they live in the world, millennials view the future as something that either intrigues, excites, or fills them with fear.

“Many more young people today are looking at the future and trying to take control of that future, not waiting to be hired into the civil service, or waiting to be employed in the labor force of large corporations,” she says. “They look at themselves as having the ability to set up something on their own and to create their own jobs.”

The International Labor Organization says there will be 71 million unemployed youth in the world in 2017, and given that young people are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population, Lagarde says countries have the responsibility to make space and to create avenues for young people to work and contribute to society. 

For young mothers, this might mean more childcare centers and other maternity benefits. For youth, more vocational and technology training, or opportunities for entrepreneurship.

“I have seen for myself that self-employment for young people can be very successful because it matches their appetite for creating the conditions of their work, their remuneration, and their contribution to economic life,” she says.

Lagarde believes that, overall, today’s young people are willing to serve in traditional workplaces, but are also ready to fend for themselves—as historically youth have had to do—and to equip themselves with tools for success.

“Proving yourself, educating yourself, showing your worth and convincing people that you are determined, that you want to participate is something that goes with the desire to experiment and the energy to engage, which are very often the attributes of young people,” she says.

Listen to the full podcast and read also Christine Lagarde’s Straight Talk about millennials and the future of work, in the June 2017 issue of Finance and Development magazine .