Addressing youth unemployment through corporate volunteering

Addressing youth unemployment through corporate volunteering & other actions

Zahra Darvishi, Credit Suisse AG (Switzerland)
Anja Meyfarth, Joblinge gAG Hanse (Germany)

Moderator: Kathi Dennis, IAVE (US)

Although a target for the Millennium Development Goals was to “Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people,” unemployment for youth continues to increase.

Zahra Darvishi, Credit Suisse, led off the session discussing what the company is doing to enable young people to be successful in entering the workplace, youth unemployment being one of the top concerns in Switzerland. Employee volunteers helped young people with employment applications and practice interviews with a 70% success rate among the youth served.

Anja Meyfarth, Manager at Joblinge, discussed the mentorship opportunities they provide corporate volunteers who support young people at eight sites around Hamburg, Germany. Mentors act as ‘confidant, coach and crisis managers for the young people involved in the program. Joblinge trains the mentor through their companies’ employee development programming.

Session participants stressed the focus on working with at-risk youth and where possible working with young children and their families. There was a lot of discussion about the need for multi-sector partnerships – company, government and non-profit. We discussed the ‘size of the problem’ and the need to scale up efforts in order to respond to the scope of the issue. Companies also discussed working beyond company employees to their suppliers and engaging their customers in fundraising as well as volunteer initiatives.

One question we asked was, “How do you convince employers to value volunteering on a resume of a young applicant?” Admittedly none of the employers were considering youth volunteering on a resume except in cases of students volunteering in cross border programs. Companies also agreed that Human Resources staff are caught in the cycle of “hiring for hard skills, firing for lack of soft skills.”

Prepared by Kathi Dennis, Moderator


Presentation by 
Zahra Darvishi, Credit Suisse AG

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ZAHRA DARVISHI is the Head of Corporate Citizenship Switzerland at Credit Suisse AG, responsible for Corporate Volunteering and the Youth Unemployment Initiative. She is also the Co-Chair of the Disability Interest Forum Switzerland, a trustee of the both Braille Without Borders and the SVC Foundation, a board member of Check Your Chance, and a designated Responsible Leader of the BMW Foundation.

Presentation by 
Anja Meyfarth, Joblinge gAG Hanse

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ANJA MEYFARTH is the Location Manager at Joblinge gAG Hanse. She is in charge of operational development and is the main point of contact for the board, the supervisory board, and public authorities. She is the lead for the Joblinge Team and is also responsible for strategic development of the Joblinge partners in Hamburg.


KATHI DENNIS is the Executive Director of IAVE, with overall responsibility for working in partnership with the board of directors to implement IAVE’s strategic plan while managing the secretariat team and working closely with the World President on outreach to external partners. In the past she also worked with Habitat for Humanity International and the Corporation for National and Community Service.