The Novia Salcedo Awards have a significant background in promoting employability. Do you think the Foundation is doing a good job in this regard?

Without a doubt, this work is not only appropriate but essential: social change is affecting the employability of young people all over the world. As the director of the Novia Salcedo Foundation, Begoña Extebarria, said in her conclusions in “Notebook I of the Icaro Think Tank”, change, extraordinarily fast, is taking place at a triple level: individuals, organisations and society as a whole.

The Telefónica Foundation carries in its DNA a concern for contributing to everything that creates social cohesion and strengthens societies and, in this regard, we are fully aligned because we believe that this technological revolution must be inclusive and contribute to closing the digital gap. In addition, the achievements of the Novia Salcedo Foundation in 2017 are excellent with more than 1,000 young people who have trained in new emerging fields and more than 700 committed companies: 68% of the young people involved in their programmes were hired last year. These figures at such a difficult time encourage us to carry on and to create the changes that Extebarria mentioned by investing resources and knowledge. For us, it is very important to walk together with relevant social agents with experience in the field of employability. Novia Salcedo has more than 36 years of experience in this field and an excellent ally: the Project Pegasus, that enables us to combine our efforts in the Basque Country, is proof of this.

Training and integrating young people is one of the requirements taken into account for an enterprise to be worthy of our awards. Do you think the prize will help the winner in the future?

Of course. At the Telefónica Foundation, we firmly believe that the natural improvement of our future lies in digitization, which, in turn, depends on training in digital skills and cross-cutting skills, which is simply another word for excellence in a society that increasingly demands more such skills.

This excellence, which is rewarded by means of this prize and refers to the professional integration of young people, anticipates the direction of the labour market in an ever-changing technological environment. Recognition like this is seen as encouragement to promote new competencies, skills and strategies in people in search of employment.

 We have added a category that rewards the Public Administrations this year. Do you agree that public-private partnerships favour youth employment and integration policies?

The challenges of employability can only be tackled by society as a whole.  Fortunately, we are gradually creating a culture of public-private responsibility that is becoming increasingly popular. We must necessarily evolve towards mixed models of participation and funding and use this double flow of knowledge and requirements of both public administrations and companies.

In fact, the Telefónica Foundation is committed to goal seventeen of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN: encourage and promote the establishment of effective partnerships in the public, and public-private fields and in civil society, drawing on the experience and the strategies of institutions’ resources.

We have, therefore, to be allies to achieve social change and as a corporate foundation, we are transferring knowledge to citizens and contributing to the State, in a model of cooperation, any achievements that can strengthen society, which we all share, strengthening its ethical values.

Women, green economy, work-family conciliation… are aspects that we assess carefully in SMEs. Do you see these as essential aspects in the development of small businesses?

Consolidated and emerging businesses have to work together so that the former can become more innovative and competitive and the latter can develop and become stronger. This is what David Birch, in his famous report Job Generation Process, called the elephants – settled businesses- and gazelles – small young and flexible businesses. The pattern of thought in the Novia Salcedo Foundation’s Icaro Think Tank is very clear on this point: creativity, the emotional environment, diversity, ecosystems of coexistence, the role of women or the relations of companies with their natural environments open up new habits and spaces of participation and reflection toward an ideal of sustainability.

Finally, why did you decide to accept the invitation to become a member of the jury of the Novia Salcedo Awards?

Because belonging to a jury of this type is an honour and strengthens our contribution through “Conecta empleo” to help more and more young people to find jobs that fit their profiles. The expectations young people have regarding foundations are very high and we must not only not disappoint them, we must exceed those expectations by adapting our skills in a world that is as so diverse and changing: a truly exhilarating challenge. We are allies for social change and acknowledging the best through these Awards is part of this spirit that both foundations share.


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