YMCA sets sights on global advocacy for ‘Meaningful Work’ standards for young people

Date: 05 March 2024

World YMCA, Y Australia and Deloitte Australia met in Melbourne on 15 and 16 February 2024 to map shared progress to date and shared priorities to come as they seek to make the YMCA a global advocate and benchmarker for Meaningful Work for young people.

‘In a world in which two-thirds of the global youth labour force lack any basic set of skills*, this work really matters’, said Tal Karp, former CEO of Y Australia, which has championed the work of the worldwide YMCA Movement so far on the second of four Pillars of Impact of YMCA Vision 2030: Meaningful Work.

‘We have been given a clear sense of what the challenge is, informed by The Youth Meaningful Work survey – a survey with and for young people which drew some 10,000 responses from over 120 countries in the last few months. We wanted to hear all they had to say both about entering the world of work, about being in work and their aspirations in work going forward.’

The survey found that the top barriers facing young people are not having the right skills, qualifications or experiences (40% of respondents), being restricted by the poor economic and social conditions in their country (30%), and not having the right support to find and then access work opportunities (30%).

‘Based on the survey, we have defined Meaningful Work as work that is fair and fulfilling, and which positively influences the growth and wellbeing of young people and their communities’, says Nicole Scoble-Williams, Global Future of Work Leader at Deloitte, which has given pro-bono support to the initiative over the last 8 months. ‘We have also outlined a comprehensive set of potential standards for such Meaningful Work for young people worldwide. They now need testing.’

‘We believe that the global YMCA can have a role not just to implement these standards as an employer, but to be a global advocate for them with UN agencies, Governments and employers’, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee.

‘I want to thank Deloitte Australia and Y Australia for all their impassioned and fantastic work on this project. Their commitment is exceptional, and the work they have done so far puts us in a very exciting place.’

‘And now our shared task is to take that work even further. I want us to be transformative, and if necessary disruptive in interrogating ourselves and other employers. Let us aim to be optimal employers – not just in theory, but in practice, in every locality.’

‘I echo Tal’s comment: this matters, and it matters right now. Deloitte’s own research shows that up to a quarter of today’s jobs will have changed out of all recognition by 2027.’


At the National General Secretaries meeting on 29 February 2024, the Deloitte Australia team presented the findings of the Meaningful Work survey, as well as the intended next steps of mapping of Movement-wide activities in the Meaningful Work area, and the initial ‘case for change’ which will lead to a Movement-wide plan.

YMCA plans to present and workshop this plan with young people at the YMCA Accelerator Summit in Mombasa, Kenya, in October 2024.

 * ILO “World Employment and Social Outlook”, 2023