Talentenomics: Real returns on investment
That’s why her aim is to change the lives of others by encouraging them to do the same and share with her their passion for life, goals, dreams and writing, and “be the change you want to see in the world” as Mahatma Gandhisays.Since an early age, Nancy Slim has been writing poems. Besides her supportive parents, she was lucky to get the care of a blessed NGO “The Story in Me” to be able to create and publish her book “Nancy’s Poems.”
“The Story In Me” is an organization that focuses on empowering young individuals by emphasizing on activities and services that enhance their personality and character traits across the world.
Enabling children and youth to unleash their talents and realize their productive potential helps harness their creativity, energy and dynamism and that is a central element to overcoming many socio-cultural and economic challenges that are still unresolvable by decision-makers, especially the issues of unemployment and finding the “right job.”
This can only be achieved in a policy and institutional environment where the capacity development of youth is a priority at all levels and in a country in which decision and policy makers are willing and aware of the needs and benefits of such ventures.
Unveiling kids’ talents at an early stage may be a way to lessen the rate of failure and slow growth. Directing our kids to discover their “dormant talents” is to find for them the right path in life which will definitely have its spill on the surrounding, the society and the nation at large.
Successful societies are the ones that discover these capacities and at the same time open for them opportunities to express themselves while turning their talents and capacities into efficient productivity. Getting to know our kids’ real talents and therefore capacities is the first step towards success. Then come the backup systems at the individual, family, community and national levels, to help achieve the right career that aligns with what children’s passions, so that they excel at what they are doing and thus boost levels of effective productivity and growth and decrease the levels of failure and disappointment.
An interesting essay by Leslie Garett shows how we often raise our children on “esteem-boosting platitudes” telling them to dream big and that “they can be anything they want,” but then as they grow up, reality proves different, sometimes ferociously, as they realize that they cannot achieve their dreams.
This is where the transition to adulthood begins, when you think you can do anything but then feel totally “incompetent” when you can’t. This ambition gap leads to increased dissatisfaction and submission to a banal yet more recompensing working life.
A 2012 LinkedIn survey reveals that an average of only one to three adults are working their “dream job.” For others, work is a “means to an end.” Yet this end has often become simply securing basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing.
We need to stop that and it all begins at the childhood stage. We need to clearly understand how our children and youth visualize their future, and what they expect in relation to future opportunities. If we continue to undermine their capacities, we will be doomed with higher levels of social, economic and cultural failures.
This can lead eventually to disappointment and a search for other outlets and choices, from immigration to drugs abuse, violence or joining extremist paths.
Finding opportunities for youth is a critical challenge for a country like Lebanon with a population of around 6.4 million people of which 24.65 percent are under 14 years old and 16.73 percent between 15 and 24. With a population growth rate of 0.85 percent and an unemployment rate of 22 percent, it becomes vital to extract the talent and energy of children and youth to drastically increase the levels of growth, development and equality and limit further social and economic instabilities among other risks created by unemployment.
Within this globalized fast-growing world, and with all the challenges facing our region and our country, we are sitting in a “time bomb” unless we adopt a holistic national strategy and create our own jobs and opportunities through the creativity, imagination, ability and skills of our own people and our own children in particular. In this sense, entrepreneurship can also respond to this challenge and thus must be an integral part of every child’s education. And here it’s not about enhancing just children’s technical entrepreneurial skills but more their mindset as entrepreneurs.
By releasing their potential and giving them the chance to work and create their own jobs, we may achieve or contribute to the prosperity that other means have thus far failed to bring to and sustain in our country.
Unlocking the potential of youth at an early stage by building their skills, reaping their energy and dynamism and realizing their ambitions would surely have positive spill-on effects on the country, improving its living standards and increasing its economic growth. As such, the investment in unchaining the talents of children should be a strategic priority to policy makers.
Every one of us has a dormant talent. Happy ones are those who find it. Lucky ones are those who are able to enrich it, improve it and assume in their career path. The merriest are those who integrate it in their personal, professional and community life. And here’s where “talentenomics” adds most to our economy, getting high returns on investment in development of talents.
Dima El Hassan is director of programs at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.