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Q & A with Clinton Global Initiative's Danielle Goonan

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OpenIDEO has been so inspired by the level and depth of conversation around the Youth Employment Challenge so far. Contributions have been rich and thoughtful, dynamic and diverse – proving that our global community has been waiting to have a space to discuss such a relevant issue.

As we launch into a lively Ideas phase, we sat down with Danielle Goonan, Manager of the CGI America Workforce Development Working Group, to chat candidly about what youth employment means to her on a personal level and what her impressions have been of the challenge:

1.Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at CGI?

I am part of the CGI America team, which works with leaders from the public, private and civil sectors to develop new Commitments to Action to advance economic growth, long-term competitiveness and social mobility in the United States. Commitments to Action made by members of the CGI community offer new, specific, and measurable solutions to some of the planet's most pressing challenges. As the manager of the CGI America Workforce Development Working Group, I focus on how commitment-makers might promote talent sustainability, build sector-specific approaches to training and education and invest in innovative tools for education and skills development. 

2.What has inspired you most about the challenge so far?

In just the first few weeks, we have seen incredible participation from the global community. Individuals from 212 countries visited the challenge during the Research phase, and many of them contributed fascinating research and stories about youth employment that are unique to their local communities. And now the Ideas phase is already off to such a great start – we are so excited to see what the community comes up with. This is such a massive issue that demands perspectives from people around the world and I am inspired by the early engagement and diverse thinking we are seeing from around the world. 

3.Were there any major surprises or new findings you’ve seen in the Research phase?

We have seen so many terrific examples, research and stories submitted over the past two weeks. From advancing education and career experience to developing meaningful mentoring and training initiatives, challenge participants have explored the issue of youth employment from many different angles. One contribution explored the progress of Dare to Innovate, an organization in Guinea that has developed curriculum and collaborative structures to engage young social entrepreneurs in the country’s economic development. Another contribution highlighted the work of the London-based organization Freeformers, which connects youth to business leaders. Using a one-for-one model, young people provide businesses with advice on digital tools while the business leaders provide mentorship and additional skills training. Both of these contributions, and many others submitted during the Research phase, highlight the need for broader coordination and collaboration across sectors to address the challenge. 

4.What are some major trends or opportunities that you think are exciting in the youth employment space?

In the wake of the global economic crisis, young people are truly rewriting the workforce and finding innovative ways to create new opportunities using their unique skills and knowledge. We are seeing young entrepreneurs spring up in communities around the world, tackling old challenges and bringing new solutions to market. Millennials especially have grown up in a hyper-connected world, and are such technology natives that they’re able to leverage their knowledge about new media, e-commerce, online publishing and other digital platforms to create economic prospects for themselves, their companies or their employers. As a community, we’re constantly exploring new ways to create ecosystems at the local level and policies and partnerships at the national level to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of young people and help them realize their full potential. As we move into the Ideas phase, we look forward to seeing the community continue to think about these themes.


Thank you Danielle. And now let's turn our attention to our Ideas phase where we can all share our thoughts and solutions on this very exciting topic. Hope to see you there!

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