Socially Responsible Youth


By: Juan Diego Linares Jaime, Esteban Simón Cabrera Bonilla and Virginia Isabel Lopez Quiroz

According to the National Youth Secretariat (Senaju), what we call the youth, people between 15 and 29 years of age, represent about 25% of Peru's total population, and a third of the working-age population. Due to their importance, it is vital that this sector of the population actively participate in society and develop integrally, to generate positive impacts on the country's development.


Peruvian youth is affected by problems such as poverty, teenage pregnancy, violence, not studying or working, and school dropout (El Comercio, 2018). About these problems, the difficulty for young people in entering the labor market is equally evident. In this regard, it is worth highlighting that market insertion and labor stability for young people are often weak. Proof of this is that the gap in employment between young people and adults has been persistent in recent years, and for the third quarter of 2021 the youth unemployment rate was 10.6%, while adult unemployment was 4.7% (Comex, 2022).


According to Chacaltana and Ruiz (2017), part of the consequences of the demographic increase is the competition in the labor market, which has triggered that more and more jobs require higher professional qualifications, which would be related to an increasing supply of universities. In addition, Zurdo (2004) highlights the "springboard" function of volunteer activity, to the extent that it facilitates labor market insertion, either in other volunteer organizations or even in private companies, especially those in the social services sector. To this extent, young people find themselves in a market that requires more and more qualifications and in which participation in volunteer work favors labor market insertion, which could serve as a motivation.


Social responsibility


Vallaeys, De la Cruz, and Sasia (2009) define social responsibility as "concern for the environmental and social consequences of human or organizational activity", and stress that social responsibility is a new management system, and is not intended to be an instrument of philanthropy, so it is not just another function, but a new mode of operation based on the proper management of direct and indirect impacts on society. The concept of social responsibility has been associated with the business since its inception and, in this sense, it is not new, but is currently more focused on the contributions of companies to works of community interest (Gilli, 2005).


Thus, it is "a concept whereby companies voluntarily decide to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment" (European Commission, 2001). It is a call for companies to pay attention to social problems and address them in the pursuit of social improvement. But what is more recent is the involvement of new socially responsible actors: young people. And it is important to consider diversity here, because, as Williamson, Torres, and Villenas (2018) mention, it is not possible to speak of a single youth, but rather of various types of youth, due to the diversity of social and cultural expressions that characterize them. In this way, the contributions can be very different, but equally useful for society, as the societies can also be different, even within themselves. And young people, with all the energy they have at this stage of their personal development, with awareness, make a commitment to their society according to its needs.


The role of the youth today


Currently, the youth is increasingly involved in socially responsible initiatives. One of the ways to impact this course of action is through social enterprises, which aim to formulate solutions to social problems through social innovation (Mora and Martínez, 2018). Likewise, social enterprises not only involve entrepreneurs but also consumers. Thus, López (2021) highlights that, in recent years, consumers demand more products and services that have an impact on their environment, so consumers play an important role in supporting ventures with social impact through their purchasing power.


Another initiative in which young people participate in social projects. In this area, some projects come from both the State and social organizations. For example, on the part of the State, there are national initiatives such as "Voluntarios del Bicentenario" and local governments, as is the case of "Lima Lee", of the Municipalidad de Lima, apart from others from all kinds of public institutions. As for the initiatives of social organizations, in our country, there are some of the international stature such as Aldeas Infantiles SOS Perú and ONU Peru; as well as other national ones. When these are juvenile, they can be registered at Senaju, which grants a series of benefits, such as capacity building and technical assistance.


Added to this, some companies have included social responsibility through corporate volunteering, which, in addition to the positive effects on society, helps workers acquire different skills, such as problem analysis and solution, interpersonal communication, and time management, among others, that are part of the soft skills (Vizcaíno and Medina, 2021). In this regard, the first report on the state of corporate volunteering in Peru showed that 82% of Peruvian companies invest in this type of volunteering and 70% of them address health and education issues (Andina, 2018).


What motivates young people to become more involved in society?


According to a macro-survey conducted by Global Shapers at the initiative of the World Economic Forum, the main concerns of young people in 186 countries were revealed. The most important problem was climate change, according to 48.8% of the young people interviewed. This was followed by conflicts and wars, with 38.9%, and inequality at 30.8% (EuropaPress, 2017). In this way, we can see that young people are much more focused on the different problems that afflict the societies they inhabit, recognizing and knowing how to prioritize what concerns them most.


This explains why we see greater social responsibility and motivation in this sector of society and why they are more committed to initiatives. As a result, young people play a more active role, enabling them to enter the labor market through social entrepreneurship, social projects, and volunteering, which allows them to gain experience.


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