Young BSF: Bridging the Intergenerational Divide Panel

The first topic to be taken on at this year’s Young BSF forum was the intergenerational divide, whose key features and solutions allowing us to bridge it were outlined in an opening presentation by Melanie Seier Larsen, partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group.

Larsen pointed put that “the digital era is disrupting everything” and that the debate about this is being neglected among the younger generation, which still does not have the sense that their future jobs will undergo dramatic shifts. She highlighted three main challenge areas, the first being the demographic mix, which involves a rapidly ageing population. Companies will have to learn to utilise older people’s know-how on the one hand while also attracting young talent, with cooperation among the groups being crucial. The second issue is skill imbalance, as companies cannot find the skills they are looking for. Traditional HR approaches are outdated, she said, urging a shift to dynamic training formats, meaning constant education. Changes will also be needed in the education system in general, where more focus should be put on soft skills. The third major challenge is the increasing diversity in society. Larsen called for a move to inclusivity as the way forward, a way that leaves behind stereotypes.

“Me, you, we’re the most prepared generation ever…We are the most educated generation ever. On the one side the future is super challenging and quite unpredictable. But on the other hand, when considering the capacity perspective, the know-how, we should be prepared to tackle this issue. However we need to be aware of the generation gaps that are ahead of us and that without this inclusivity we will not be able to succeed long-term.”

Some of the developments in Slovenia related to the field were presented by Tjaša Sobočan of the Simbioza social enterprise, Tin Kampl of the National Youth Council of Slovenia, Edita Hasanović of the Home Care Service initiative and Matej Repič of the office of the Advocate of the Principle of Equality in Slovenia.

Sobočan presented Simbioza as an initiative that developed on the basis of findings showing extreme computer illiteracy among older people. “We went directly big, nationwide with over 300 locations across the country with free of charge workshops,” said Sobočan. The project that saw young volunteers teaching older people about computers and the internet later evolved into a number of successful projects beyond the digital world, all based on the recognition of how precious intergenerational cooperation is.

Repič presented the work of the 2016-launched body advocating equality, raising awareness, supporting victims of discrimination, including in legal proceedings. He pointed out that the number of discrimination incidents has been rising, while also noting that trust in authorities that could protect them is low among members of the young generation.

Edita Hasanović of the Ljubljana Home Care Institute, which helps provide home assistance and social service for older and chronically ill people, while it also organises intergenerational cooperation, singled out the Urban Hobyy, Gardening with Granny and Granpa programme. As part of the project, large plots in Ljubljana are provided for cultivation that involves a number of benefits, including the socialising of lonely seniors and youth from distressed environments.

Kampl of the National Youth Council noted a valuable move in the last two years from discussions about intergenerational conflict – spurred by the young being the first to be left behind after the 2008 global slump – to discussing intergenerational cooperation. “We’ve put this perspective of cooperation or solidarity between generations into our first plan. We’re cooperating with the pension and student organisations and established a so called intergenerational coalition in Slovenia to somehow identify our common goals and what we can do together, not only for companies but society in general.”

Young BSF 2018 - 1st Day

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