In an era where problems are more difficult to solve, experts agree that in order to adapt and thrive, we can no longer rely on only a few leaders to find and implement solutions; we all need to be resilient problem solvers.

An aging population necessitates that we pay particular attention to what young people have to offer, and how we can tap into their unique abilities. We can no longer afford to let misunderstandings between generations get in our way. But at a time when society needs their talents now more than ever before, young people, 15 to 25 years old, are often left on the sidelines, unfounded stereotypes that undervalue their abilities and leave their voices unheard.

Dr. Amelia Clarke and Ilona Dougherty, both former young leaders themselves who went on to found national youth-led organizations in their early 20s, have co-created the Youth & Innovation Project. Together they make the case that in an era of increasing instablity, meaningfully engaging young people in society and the economy is no longer ‘just a nice thing to do’ or of benefit only to young people; rather it is a social and economic imperative.

While there are many programs that target young people, we have chosen to focus on shifting the attitudes, values and practices of policymakers, employers and educators. We believe that if we focus only on engaging and mobilizing young people without changing the policy and institutions that young people engage with, we will not be successful in fully tapping young peoples unique abilities.

We approach our work from a rigorous academic perspective, aiming to push past the current assumptions and accepted norms about young people to advance youth engagement theory and practice.

We believe it is time to reimagine the role young people can play in society and the economy to ensure a bright future for us all.