Businesses, big and small, have to stand up for the COVID generation. Extend a hand to young graduates from the Class of Corona, offer them internships and first jobs, and bet on their future!

This crisis has brought an entire generation to a halt. Students and young graduates have classes and exams cancelled, and as many look to enter the labour market for the first time, they face an economy full of closed doors, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds that lack routes through privileged connections. The pandemic, which has forced many businesses to close and others to scale back, has destroyed traditional opportunities for newcomers. This has unravelled a decade of progress in tackling youth employment: by January 2021, across the OECD, about 1 in 7 young people aged 15 to 24 were unemployed.

Charities and civic organisations face increasingly desperate needs from the young, and many provide food banks and temporary accommodation. Across the world, national and local governments are stepping up their support to the young.

But we also need businesses to do more for a generation that risks being left out in the cold by the pandemic. Although some businesses, big and small, have continued to hire young graduates and invest in their futures, this is not enough. Missing out on that first step on the employment ladder can have a lasting impact on lifetime earnings, as well as on broader social outcomes. We need businesses around the world to take a stand for the Class of Corona. YOU, business owners, need to take action to support the next generation.

Even a small investment – for example through temporary hires, placements and internships can do a lot for them and for your business. This is a generation of digital natives that can help firms build an online presence. A generation that represents – and understands – younger, more socially conscious consumers and can tap into new demands. Above all, a generation with new ideas, that represents a chance – perhaps your best chance – to bounce forward better and be fit for the post-COVID world. Can you stand up for the COVID generation by creating internships and first jobs? Would you #AdoptACOVIDGraduate?

Answer the call, share, and retweet!

Save the date for the OECD Youth Week on 20-24 September 2021.

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Lamia Kamal-Chaoui is the Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities since 2016.

As a key member of the OECD Executive Leadership team, Ms. Kamal-Chaoui supports the Secretary-General in achieving the OECD’s mission to advance economic growth and social progress as well as contributing to other global agendas such as the G20 and G7, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Supported by a team of over 160 staff, Ms. Kamal-Chaoui leads the Centre’s work to advance the OECD mission of “better policies for better lives” by ensuring that all people, all types of places and businesses of all sizes can prosper from green and digital transitions (read the Centre’s brochure and dedicated blog for more details). This includes work in the fields of: SME and entrepreneurship policyRegional, urban and rural  development;  Local employment and economic development (LEED programme);  Subnational statisticssocial economyMulti-level governance, local finance and decentralisationTourism and Culture.

Prior to being Director, Ms. Kamal-Chaoui has held several senior positions at the OECD since 1998. From 2012 to 2016, she served as Senior Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General. In this role, she supported the Secretary-General’s strategic agenda and led the OECD Inclusive Growth Initiative, the Knowledge-Sharing Alliance programme, the development of the Global Deal  and the implementation of the OECD Strategy on Development. From 2003 to 2012, she was Head of the Urban Programme in the OECD Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development.  Previously, she also worked in the OECD Trade Directorate and the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs. Before joining the OECD, Ms. Kamal-Chaoui worked for a university-based research institute as well as several media outlets.

During her extensive career at the OECD, she has spearheaded several ground-breaking, multi-stakeholder OECD initiatives including the Roundtable for Mayors and Ministers, the Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Coalition, the Digital for SMEs (D4SMEs), and the StandbyYouth Initiative. She has also authored, co-authored, and overseen hundreds of policy reports and articles, and forged numerous strategic partnerships and collaborations with companies and international institutions. They include major philanthropic organisations (e.g. Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rockefeller Foundation, Kauffmann foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations) as well as other prominent organisations (e.g. Vatican Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, Club of Madrid), international civic organisations (e.g. Youth Forum, Ashoka Global) and multilateral institutions (e.g. World Bank, IADB, ADB, EBRD, European Commission, UN Habitat, APEC). She has also partnered with the private sector, including large corporations (e.g. Facebook, Amazon, Kakao, Microsoft, Vodafone) and business associations (e.g. International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), B4IG, SMEUnited).

Ms. Kamal-Chaoui has been a member of several International Committees and Advisory Boards (e.g. Lancet Green Recovery Task Force on COVID 19 recovery, C40 Women for Climate, UNWTO COVID-19 Crisis Group, World Economic Forum Deputy Board of Trustees, Vatican Expert Group on Inclusive Globalisation, Club of Madrid’s Shared Societies, Shanghai World Expo, Michael Bloomberg Mayors Challenge for Europe, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo’s Strategic Committee). She has also been a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris for the “Governing Large Metropolis” Master’s Programme.

Ms. Kamal-Chaoui is a French and Moroccan national. She holds a Master’s Degree in Macroeconomics from the University of Paris Dauphine and a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and History from the University of Paris Diderot. She recently received the "Women of the Decade in Enterprise and Leadership" award of the Women's Economic Forum.