You, the expert: an invitation to Stockholm

Last week we announced the new, exciting Edgeryders collaboration with Global Challenge. Like Edgeryders, Global Challenge is an independent think tank, it is based in Sweden and has years of experience in documenting and analyzing global trends in economics, environment and democracy.  

The Story: Our collaboration is built around a new research project funded by the Swedish Institute, The Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council and Swedbank: Youth and Jobs. The shared goal is to deepen our understanding of labour in today’s climate and look into what the future of the job market will be, as well as its impact on our democratic systems. Edgeryders role in this is to seed participants’ experiences into an honest conversation, here online. Given the experience our network has in deriving empirical value out of individual ways of navigating transition, we think our growing community can make a strong contribution. With the Transition Handbook for Policymakers to be released jointly by the European Commission and Council of Europe, we helped paint a genuine picture of youth in Europe today. Similarly to the Handbook, this new research will also be adding academic knowledge to individual perceptions, in an anthology of texts reconciling diverse levels of understanding. You can be a part of this as citizen expert!

I want to participate! I am a member in the Edgeryders community

You know Edgeryders and you have previously engaged in the conversation via posts or comments, or informal talks. What you can do is bring in an updated summary of your experience (you can still find it on our former, now read only platform via your profile or a quick search), and submit it here as a comment to this post, in the form of a personal statement.

I want to participate! I am new at the party

Whether you’re a young professional, a researcher, a youth worker or simply someone who is interested in youth participation in the labour market, your experience is highly welcome! To get started, please read the description of navigating transition nowadays, as depicted by Edgeryders, and leave a comment with your thoughts. The more personal your statement, the better! Rest assured, Edgeryders are friendly and social, as we are keen on listening and learning from one another, peer to peer. A major result of our coming together is usually a big reliance on the network as a support system, so don’t be surprised if others in the community will come up with answers to your own questions. (also publish as an individual blog post?)

Help roll this forward! To widen the conversation, make sure to share the post with your own tribes and invite others to join in.

Where does this all go? In preparing the anthology on youth, the labour market and democracy we will be hosting a research workshop on the 15th of March in Stockholm. The workshop brings together labour market and democracy researchers, people in the academia and other European experts, alongside YOU. The workshop discussions will be heavily based on this online conversation. A limited number of selected contributors will be invited to the workshop, with their travel expenses covered by Global Challenge. After the workshop, we envision these contributions to be further developed into individual articles (2500 words), meant for publication with an ISBN number this year. Each article selected for publication in the book will be paid for. All the comments and reactions to this post will be valid submissions for a workshop invitation, provided they are published before February 11. The more relevant your point is and the more active you are in the conversation, the better. If you have questions please send us an email at

Getting started: We would like to begin with the results in the Transition Handbook, and build on them in a way that incorporates regional comparisons to a greater extent… Browse the report. See any section you are especially interested in? Are you currently interested in any of the areas we explore in it? Wherever you are in life and whatever your current situation do get in touch if you think the project is interesting. And no, you don’t have to have a degree or any formal qualifications for your input to be considered valuable and much appreciated in Edgeryders 

I am on - just go for it…

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Mr. Abrahamsson, I don’t know if you had the chance to skim through the report, it’s quite dense, but one of the questions that was left a bit unanswered after all our conversations last year, was one about the trend towards diversification of one’s skills and the ability of the market to absorb these new skilled youth.

More often than not, people seem to agree that we need to progress towards a new learning culture that is based on cooperation, lateral thinking, self organization, creativity, skills that are barely fostered in traditional learning environments. But these aren’t backed by credentials, so employers don’t endorse them when hiring, rather they go for highly specialized individuals. An Edgeryder here made quite a strong case about “hybrids”, the cross-disciplinary learners, stating that the only thing left for them to do is to become their own resource, and go for a more entrepreneurial path. But is there room for everybody nowadays to be an entrepreneur in their profession?

I know this is but a tip of the iceberg of many structural problesm, but I’d very much be curious about your thoughts on this one,

Also, we’re very glad to welcome you to our Edgeryders family!

Dear Noemi, Thanks for your comment. No I have not yet read the report. Your comments on skills are relevant and interesting. Many youngster not being able to embark on the labour market also have learning deficits with regard to basic skills in reading, writing and math as well as language, civics. What you are discussing could also be related to generic skills, problem solving, cross-disciplinary thinking, entrepreneurship and creativity which sometimes falls outside the school curriculum. I need to look more into your work and thinking patterns. One important challenge is also methods of recognizing informal skills and everyday learning.

Personally, I have nothing relevant to say about Youth and Jobs, being (a) unYoung and (b) happiy unEmployed. However, I believe, one may find some inspiration in an old (AD 1985) essay The Abolition of Work which provides some critical view on the employment-centered society. I believe that this oldie should be reviewed in context of Edgeryders in-statu-nascendi ethos and - more broadly - of recent dicussions about negative tax, P2P and The Commons, which tend to redefine human activity way beyond the commodified work and human importance beyond one’s fittness for the labor market.

Enjoy reading & thinking!

Your Friendy Anarchist


Hi, I am concerned about the how we do not seem to be able to change the way education (and education policy particularly) needs to respond to the issues of ‘new skills for new jobs’. I am lobbying for inclusion of a new job category - the geospatial sector - in policy. The industry needs more skilled workers but as it is not classified or understood by policy makers, we are not creating enough people with the right skills to work in the sector, or indeed to apply the technologies in different contexts. S it’s about recognising the needs of industry and responding rapidly to them. Our project is setting up a grassroots set of accredited expert centres (and individuals) to meet these needs. Is the Centre of Excellence concept one that might work? Well we are trying it!! So would like to be involved.

I should also mention, the association is am President of is a participating NGO at the Council of Europe… In fact I am in Strasbourg attending the INGO conference at the moment:-)

Thank you for joining this conversation, Karl. Looking through your digital earth website my understanding is that you’re advocating for a wide implementation of GIS education in many research fields. Strangely enough, I would’ve thought its use it’s already widespread enough to exist as a recognized profession in which the skills are acquired via institutionalized education. Also, I read in one of your interviews that there is a need of 50 000 such skilled workers in Europe (do you happen to have a link to the source/ stats?). What would you summarize as being the main policy cracks that need to be fixed to get to full occupation? I’m guessing there are country differences, and some national governments are doing better than others…

To give you an example, one question we’ve been asking ourselves in the Edgeryders community was about funding innovation in Europe: why won’t big institution funders put their money into smaller, often riskier projects (nonetheless with huge social impact if they succeed) as opposed to only funding large organisations backed up by large portofolios who ask for a lot of money? and the way we went about answering this is going through the constraints policy makers themselves have. We set up a Policy Hero Challenge in Brussels last December, and invited key people in the European Commission to try to answer this, together. And we did get answers, and pretty good ones, like the risk adversity for high failure rates of such projects, coupled with huge accountability of how the public money is spent, and big administrative costs to manage many more applications for smaller-amounts , than less applications for bigger amounts of money. All in all, we got one step closer to finding new ways, or our own way to deal with the problem. Young people today are three times as likely as their parents to be out of work. Yet many employers can’t find people with the right entry-level skills to fill their jobs. How to close the gap? In this video, McKinsey directors Diana Farrell and Mona Mourshed share insights from our research with 8,000 stakeholders. We also profile two innovative organizations—one in India and one in the United States—that are pioneering new approaches to successfully transition greater numbers of students from education into employment. What do you say about this?

The problem that I see with those skill building schools is that they are private, am I right? Meaning they may not be accessible by those who might just need to go through that learning process the most.

Nathalie, I say: why is employment such a fetish? Why the goal of personal development has to be “fit to the labour market”? Trust me, there is the life beyond the market! The structure of demand on the forced labour market is shaped by two major agents: bureaucracy and corporations. Do they really provide that much value to the society? To us? Why should young, unspoiled people bend their minds to the turbo-capitalism employment model that - once triumphant - is now rotting? You said, more and more young people will be out of work now. This is the chance, not a threat. Look around - there is a vast area of social life being sadly neglected for decades, now being vividly rebuilt by those who are not on the labour market - The Commons, P2P, cooperatives. Isn’t THIS a kind of change Edgeryders try to make? So, look beyond the market - and instead of turning our best, independent and brilliant minds into corporate cannon fodder, let’s help them find their own way - with the huge benefit for the society. We do not need more sararimen. We need more Edgeryders - as they were meant to be. So do not shanghai our future leaders for the sake of the falling capitalism. This is the society that we should protect, not the market. Y.F.A. (Petros)

I think this report is neo-liberal propaganda. McKinsey earn billions, much of this money from public sources, to suggest free market growth-oriented solutions to problems that are fundamentally caused by those same forces. This report may appear to be concerned with social justice i.e. equipping disadvantaged people with skills to earn a living. But it is part of the movement to break up public provision of education, to privatise it, and to turn educational organisations into businesses preying on young people’s fears about the future. Public educational organisations are blamed for not producing the right kinds of component workers, for not keeping up with fast-paced changes in technology etc. Some schools/colleges (e.g. in places like Finland, or alternative providers) are able to resist these pressures, but most are being forced to become feeders of industry rather than caring formers of whole, creative, autonomous people. I believe that companies and specialised professions should be responsible for funding and supporting training for work. This should be seen as work-based training rather than education. The more monotonous and tied to industrial production this work is, the less it should be implicated in education, which should be about growing people through diverse experiences. I believe that education should be vocational, hands-on and rooted in the real world - so I’m not arguing for education as a soft protected academic ivory tower. I don’t think that industrial training prepares people to be as resilient, creative and empathetic as is required by the coming global shift. Vocational education should be about facilitating people to find their element and their calling. The report criticises education and industry for being in silos. I suspect the main problem is that education is not enough protecting children from industry. If young people can thrive without industrial employment, that should be the measure of educational success. If employers invest in research and development, with a proper focus on developing people (to be both specialised and empathetic/socially skilled), that should be a measure of industrial success.

An interesting insight:

David de Ugarte on the commons and the labour market end

Think Dougald’s reflections on the intricate ties between making a living and making meaning are well worth exploring further. Maybe we could get together more examples as a basis for further discussion ahead of the March meeting? /t/the-regeneration-of-meaning/460/

Diversification trend …

Hi Noemi

You mention about the trend towards diversification of one’s skills and the ability of the market to absorb these new skilled youth. The example of where the market does do this is where organisations invest in graduate programmes where they spend time in different parts of the organisation to become “hybrids” and get training (in the best cases) in the learning culture you describe. The graduate programme provides these credentials. But while the people selected to these programmes may have a variety of different skills, when it comes to the learning skills you describe, the organisation will select people who can make the organisation successful, so by default they’re unlikely to recruit anyone who may question how things are done, let alone be able to self-organise others to create alternatives!

What I found fascinating through the Edgeryders report is the “self-selecting method” as a way to attract people with an intrinsic motivation towards the project. I wonder if this principle could work for an un-graduate programme developed by young people in a community focused on a set of needs they’ve identified, skills they want to develop/share and proposals to organisations on how they can help them. In other words, making the demand (these are the needs we want to tackle / value we want to create) & supply (these are the assets we can bring) start with young people (and the community?

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Oh I see your point! The thing is I always have a hard time imagining such organizations (corporations) just willing to invest in employees that are overly disciplined and puppet like. I mean critical thinking doesn’t really mean criticizing, but comes packed with a certain work autonomy and ability to understand complex processes. Who would not want to raise such employees? Anyway, I obviously know too little of these environments… You should talk to @CharanyaC, she’s quite interested in how companies recruit people.

Glad you had the time to skim through the report, from the community perspective self selection is key because you completely change the rules of the game and how relationships are formed, what the offer is and why participants take you up on that offer. It comes with quite a strong shared understanding of why people come together. The supply-demand scheme is something we’re also trying with an upcoming project (#SC4SV on twitter), except we’re going to do it from peer to peer rather than from students to organisations. But I don’t see why it wouldnt work, if you have a strong social contract between the people involved… IMO it has to do with aligining the incentives of everyone to become involved in the project.

There are organisations …

There are organisations who do invest in people with critical thinking skills, so maybe the problem is more that being recruited into an “exclusive” program with the aim of the organisation into turning you into a corporate leader of their values while giving you a slice of status within the firm, is that your own incentives change – you’ve tasted that slice of status and its exclusivity and you’re hungry for more.

My initial assumptions on self-selecting have been that those with pre-existing social capital will have the confidence and ability to gain from such a process. But, I think this is only where there is one way to participate – whether it is in a consultation process or a public meeting. But if we gave more ways for young people to feel a sense of ownership over participation projects like Edgeryders, then you choose the entry point – whether that’s head first into having your say about something or helping design a poster or even listening into a twitter feed to get a better sense of a project. Which is what I’m going to do with the #SC4SV project !

A suggestion I have for the workshop in Stockholm would be to see what we can we learn from how through the process of coping with the crisis, they discover & create new ways of making a living. By coping – not just practically but emotionally too.

In particular, building on the the Edgeryders guide to the future was where it talks about how important families are in helping young people do that, and how peer networks are taking on the characteristics associated with families.

Reminds me of two very different examples. The first is being involved in the European Alternatives network of young people across different European cities, I’ve noticed how strong social & cultural models of support are in particular areas – i.e. familial & informal support form the basis of Mediterranean model – and now the welfare state in their countries has crashed, that form of support is all that’s left, while in places like Nordic region, France and even Germany and UK, institutional support has been embedded for centuries, coupled with the the individualisation of rights. Second perspective is that gangs often work precisely because they adopt characteristics of the structures that don’t exist in communities – whether family or the state.

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