It’s a fact – more youth are taking action to show they care about climate change. This September, millions of youth participated in the largest global climate strikes in world history. From the climate strike in March to the strikes in September 2019, Sprinklr found that the discussion of #climatestrike in the press grew from 1.4K news mentions to 8K news mentions. Across social media, the discussion grew by more than 600 percent on Facebook, 400 percent on Instagram and more than 300 percent on Twitter.
For Garett Brennan, the challenge isn’t understanding that people care about climate change. The challenge is finding these youth, training them and getting them hired by companies looking to improve their sustainability programs.
Garett is the co-founder of FOCUS: the world’s first climate gap year. FOCUS provides hands-on, immersive educational experiences for young people interested in learning about climate, traveling the world and earning college credit at the same – all before they head to college.
“You have millions of youth striking across the globe, rightfully and righteously yelling at people who’ve had 40 years to solve our climate change problem. Yet, there are very few opportunities for these youth to study climate change and learn how to make it part of their academic and professional career path. There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S., and only 2 percent of these offer majors focused on climate change,” said Garett.
FOCUS tries to make up for the lack of formal education available by getting young people involved on the ground, living in communities experiencing the impact of climate change and learning from climate experts, so they can gain the skills and perspective they need to change the world. Over the last 12 months, FOCUS partnered with the Gap Year Association to develop immersive programs in India and Chile and is now developing a climate curriculum platform that will help any gap year organization integrate climate-focused experiences for students traveling abroad.
At the same time, FOCUS is starting to partner with corporations looking to recruit a large set of youth for corporate climate programs.
Turning to Sprinklr for Help
Garett turned to Sprinklr to improve the efficiency and accuracy of its recruitment process.
“Tackling the climate crisis is just as much a human capital management problem as it is a technological, infrastructure, and political challenge. When a company is hiring, they’re able to refer to a standard pipeline of people with mechanical engineering experience or writing experience. But finding someone who understands climate change and is dedicated to solving this issue is a challenge. If you’re not looking for experience but looking for that passion and knowledge, that’s hard,” Garett says.
Sprinklr helps FOCUS solve this challenge by analyzing data from across social media channels to quickly build a database of passionate youth who could be interested in a climate gap year as a way to accelerate their learning and skills to get on a climate-focused career path.
“With Sprinklr, we’re quickly able to quickly identify youth who have passions and interests that align strongly with our programs. Before Sprinklr, we would pull together a large pool of youth but we had no way to strategically narrow down this list to those interested in the combination of climate, education and career,” said Garett. “By using Sprinklr we’re able to shorten our list from thousands to 200 potential youth interested in our programs.”
In addition to using Sprinklr to help with recruiting, FOCUS is also using Sprinklr to test interest in its specific programs on different audiences. For example, Sprinklr pulls together three different target audiences of youth. Then, FOCUS will present the same question to these audiences: are you interested in a program in Chile? Based on the response, FOCUS will understand which type of youth to recruit for its different country programs.
The Future: Turning the Growing Climate Conversation into Action
There have been students mobilizing for over a decade highlighting the urgency of climate change. What’s different now? Social media. People are using social to bypass traditional forms of communications to get the message of the climate crisis out to the public.
According to Garett, “Social media has been an incredibly effective tool for young people to get their voice out there that we didn’t have years ago. But how do we harness that fire? How do we harness all those #climatestrike mentions? The recent surge in activism is smart and essential, but how do we put that into action when the bulk of our political and corporate power still lies in the hands of an older generation that won’t be around to see the full impacts of climate change?”
Connecting students to climate-focused careers at companies that are serious about taking climate action is one way Garett is hoping to turn the growing climate conversation into action. The FOCUS roadmap includes a new set of programs in 2020 that will deploy the students it recruits, and possible recent graduates, to corporate partners seeking early-stage talent to work on decarbonization strategies in their supply chain.
“Our new corporate programs will give brands an opportunity to take climate action, while also addressing two issues that consistently create the most anxiety for today’s young people: the climate crisis and the uncertainty of well-paid meaningful work,” said Garett.
Sprinklr will continue working with FOCUS to accelerate the ability for young people to take their climate passion and build a more climate-competent workforce.
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