Shaping the COVID-19 Recovery: Ideas from OECD’s Generation Y and Z

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In the spring of this year, the OECD launched a call for its staff, consultants and interns from Generations Y and Z to volunteer some proposals on how countries can emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with a more resilient and inclusive system. We are proud to share 10 of the most innovative proposals. As the world grapples with a multifaceted crisis that will profoundly shape the years to come, these ideas outline the challenges as seen by the younger generations and capture their priorities for a better future.

The coronavirus pandemic represents an unprecedented global crisis, the scale of which will profoundly shape the world for years to come. It is now becoming clear that younger generations will be among the hardest hit. The work of the OECD highlights that COVID-19, both during the public health crisis and the recovery phases, creates specific difficulties for younger people and for their future, from increasing levels of youth unemployment and the implications of rising debt for issues of intergenerational justice, to threats to the well-being of youth and future generations (OECD, 2020). Young women and men (15-24) already have less income at their disposal compared to previous young generations; they are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than people aged 25-64 (OECD, 2018), and less than half of young people (45%) across the OECD countries express trust in government (Gallup, 2019). Intersecting identity factors, such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, and intellectual or physical disability, and socio-economic disadvantage may exacerbate the vulnerability of young people (e.g. homeless youth, young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), young migrants).

From the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OECD has been at hand to assist countries in responding to the crisis, for example through the launch of our COVID-19 Policy Responses Digital Hub. We also understood, however, that it was imperative to question and challenge our younger colleagues about the changes needed in the post-pandemic world. We thus invited them to examine the crisis from their own unique and diverse perspectives and come up with innovative policy solutions that provide concrete ways to help rebuild our societies and make them more resilient and inclusive. The impact of this crisis looks set to be more severe than the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which had already harshly affected Generation Y. As agents of change, we trusted that they could contribute solutions. And they delivered!

This unique exercise made us really proud to see the great response and the quality of the proposals that were submitted, not only by the finalists, but also by all the colleagues from Generations Y and Z who answered this call.

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