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As hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing war and escaping poverty, pictures of crying faces mixed with increasingly xenophobic political statements are flooding the newscasts around Europe. For many countries, the current migration wave poses major economic and social challenges, and has led to frequent debates on how to deal with the incoming refugees. What is less discussed however, is the increased outbound European migration. Due to increased unemployment, economic instability, mobility as well as racism and exclusion, the European youth is ready to move on.

Born between 1980 and 2000, the millennials are predicted to become the first generation that does worse than their parents. But how bad, or good, is it actually for young people around the world? I recently had the pleasure to work with Felix Marquardt, co-founder of the think tank Youthonomics, who set out on a quest to answer just that question. Through the Youthonomics Global Index report, ranking countries based on 59 criteria such as youth unemployment rates, quality and cost of education, housing affordability et cetera, Youthonomics aims to place youth back at the center of the global political debate.

Among the more interesting aspects of the Global Index report is the comparison of the present youth situation and future outlook between countries. Unsurprisingly, the best countries for adolescents today include states such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Austria. These countries rank high due to their support of vocational training, easy access to employment, and excellent work and living conditions. More surprisingly however, is the ranking of countries based on future outlook. Here, factors such as public finance, economic opportunities, and political weight provide the basis for the Global Index.

While Nordic countries including Norway and Sweden top the list, they are followed by Uganda, Rwanda, Kazakhstan, and Ghana. Why is this? One explanation is that youth in many well developed states experience stagnating or even declining economic and demographic conditions. Especially countries such as Greece, Spain, and Portugal, severely hit by the recent economic crisis, are looking at bottom placements when it comes to youth outlook. The opposite is true for many low-income nations where economic and population growth contribute to an increased youth optimism. Although it will be long before the youth in states like Uganda, Rwanda, and Ghana experience conditions similar to those in Western European countries, their situation will surely improve at a faster rate.

So, why are the conditions of youth a concern for businesses and corporations around the world? As the struggle to attract, hire, and nurture the future top talent is intensifying, insight regarding what matters to youth is essential. By examining how macro factors outside the company walls affect the millennials, organizations can strengthen their attractiveness to foreign talents. For example, the United States is currently the top destination for many aspiring young professionals. However, the proportion of graduates from the top 500 universities migrating to the U.S. has dropped from 24 percent in 2000 to just 12 percent 2012. A complex visa system, greater work demand in other countries, and the aftermath of the 2008 recession may be possible explanations for why young professionals are looking elsewhere for opportunities.

Using the Youthonomics Global Index report, businesses and corporations can use additional arguments to attract youth considering to work abroad. By companies in Norway taking advantage of the country’s work and living conditions, organizations in the Netherlands marketing the well being of their nationals, and Chinese corporations demonstrating the state’s economic opportunities, they might just convince the future top talent to come work for them.

Link to the report 

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