Six years ago — and with a healthy dose of delusional optimism — we founded ReGeneration with a vision to not only transform the lives of young graduates but to permanently change the trajectory of modern day Greece by democratizing access to opportunity, creating agents of change from within and infusing the oxygen of possibility to a country on the verge of entrepreneurial extinction. The decision to build ReGeneration as a non-profit was highly intentional. Our focus has always been on creating lasting social value, rather than capturing a momentary profit. We are a program built by underdogs, with a platform designed to make self-made success stories possible by equipping the next generation of professionals to offer Greece a new narrative of resilience, diversity, and economic mobility.
Facing head on the major challenges of youth unemployment and underemployment, brain drain and a skills gap among graduates, ReGeneration generates the social capital, and therefore the opportunities that young graduates are critically lacking. As a first-in-kind, cross-industry, multi-stakeholder education and employment ecosystem, ReGeneration spans both the supply and demand sides of junior talent development and recruiting. Our education to employment pathways serve to combat barriers to entry that continue to plague Greek graduate employment, from lack of work experience to lack of true diversity and meritocracy. In just a few short years, we’ve built an ecosystem of hundreds of hiring partners and provided our graduates with the skills and opportunities to architect their own futures. Yet, we have lofty aspirations and know our job is far from done.
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Globalization 4.0 is at hand. Greece is at a critical inflection point, with global education and employment facing massive disruption and reinvention from technological and sociopolitical forces. Looking towards 2021, ReGeneration’s initiatives are designed around a belief in strategic ambidexterity as a focal point to enable our beneficiaries to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) economy. This means putting in place the skills required to optimize and grow traditional sectors such as retail, supply chain, energy, agriculture, hospitality, and shipping, while also preparing Greece’s graduate workforce for the growth of new frontier verticals that are becoming increasingly relevant to the Greek economy, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing, and cyber security. In doing so, we are growing ReGeneration Academy, while exploring options for public partnerships to drive the greatest impact down the line. As we look forward at how to maximize impact given this shifting landscape, ReGeneration is expanding its focus to three areas that we believe will allow us to drive trailblazing development opportunities for both our beneficiaries and the country.
I) Future of Work
As the breakthrough technologies of the 4IR — such as virtual and augmented reality, quantum computing, and AI-driven data systems — come more forcefully into fruition, we see how Greece is no exception to these global trends. These changes are major opportunities to create growth, but also present significant risks, such as workforce automation and skills gap between current students and future roles. As skills become the new currency of this evolving labor market, Greece will need a flexible and adaptive system to skill, re-skill, and up-skill students and young graduates in order to thrive in this fast evolving and nuanced environment. ReGeneration is prepared to meet this challenge head-on with a range of future-focused initiatives. The upcoming ReGeneration Lab for the Future of Work, for example, will enable knowledge transfer, partnerships, and localization — drawing from Silicon Valley’s best practices. Another initiative, where we have already seen impact, is the development of corporate partnerships in which we collaborate to develop and roll-out graduate up-skilling and recruitment programs.
II) Future of Learning
As the future of work is rapidly developing, learning is similarly morphing from something ending at graduation to a lifelong evolutionary process. As we prepare our beneficiaries for a world shaped by automation, we are striving to ensure that young workers and students are not left behind. To this effect, our initiatives are meticulously designed to bridge the skills gap by transforming learning into doing. ReGeneration brings together the key elements of the most impactful last mile training programs into a cohesive experience that integrates blended and personalized vocational learning across both hard and soft skills, with planned expansion to undergraduate programs though customized initiatives in mobile and massive online learning courses. Our programs provide ReGenerators not only with critical workplace skills, but also with the ability to apply those skills to the evolving roles they face in Greece’s changing economy. In doing so, we put a particular emphasis on egalitarianism in the workplace by ensuring equal access for populations underserved due to their city of residence, gender, income, or disabilities. Towards that end, and pursuant to our vision, we’re doubling down on geographical expansion and introducing our flagship initiative on accessibility, diversity and inclusion as we make ReGeneration fully accessible to graduates with disabilities across the country.
III) The Gig Economy
A new globalized workforce, driven by the rise of Web 3.0 and the evolution of learning into a lifelong process, is breaking the paradigms of established industries and revolutionizing traditional sectors worldwide. At ReGeneration, we believe that the gig economy presents an opportunity to address brain drain. For the past six years, we’ve worked directly with hiring partners that have a physical presence in Greece to facilitate the hiring of local talent equipped with the skills needed to thrive in Greece’s evolving flagship industries. Looking to the future, we believe that by up- and re-skilling our beneficiaries to succeed in the gig economy, we will eventually give them the option to remain in Greece while being employed virtually by a host of growing multinational corporations. We also believe that retaining a dynamic workforce physically in Greece feeds the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with fresh talent available to fuel the success of new companies and startups. Furthermore, with a growing Greek diaspora, ReGeneration is uniquely positioned to create a support network of Hellenes abroad that can harness Greek intellectual capital to make the most of the growing gig economy. For example, junior talent currently working abroad may be repatriated through gap year internship programs in Greece, along with supporting systems and incentives. Above all, our hope is that via brain circulation we will regenerate the country’s spirit of exploration, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
As we look towards what is next, on behalf of our entire ReGeneration family, I want to express my gratitude to our rock star team, beneficiaries, supporters, early adopters, hiring and corporate partners, alumni, affiliate non-profits, friends, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help us get to where we are today. ReGeneration would just have been a crazy business plan without your contributions and support.
To our followers old and new, if our mission speaks to you, know that no resources or ideas are redundant to us. It is at the core of ReGeneration’s DNA to build on every contribution from our communities. Whether you are passionate about our cause, want to partner with us, apply to work with us, or simply have an idea to share — we especially love “crazy ideas” — please reach out at [email protected].
In six years of working tirelessly to bridge the gap between debate and action, we have set aside the assumptions we were handed and created a new narrative for the future of youth in the country. Now let’s write the next chapter together — a story built on hope, resilience, and boundless possibilities for the future of Greece.