To coincide with National Youth Week and to celebrate the contributions young people make, last Friday 31 March YMCA’s across the country elected a young person to act as their CEO for the day.
Enabling a young person to take the reins as CEO for a day not only provides that young person with a valuable professional development experience, but it empowers them to share their ideas and opinions and be heard at a high-level.
YMCA rejects the notion that young people are entitled or lazy, instead believing that with the right support and opportunities, young people can have profound impact and make important contributions to the community.
Here at YMCA Victoria, 23-year-old Anthony Secoulidis, duty manager and lifeguard at YMCA Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre, was the successful applicant to step in and take the corner office as our Young CEO.
Anthony took this unique opportunity as a chance to tackle issues he’s passionate about like youth unemployment and youth engagement.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the current unemployment rate for 15–24-year-olds is 13.3%. When combined with youth under-employment (those in casual or part-time roles wanting more work) the figure doubles.
“We need to reverse this trend,” says Anthony, stating the importance of breaking hierarchical structures and the importance of communication between senior and junior staff.
“Youth issues are not just about young people. Everybody needs to play a part and that starts with closing the gap between higher management and younger staff.”
To secure employment, often young people need to get their foot in the door by volunteering to gain practical experience. Being the Young CEO not only gave Anthony that foot in the door but an opportunity as a young person to make a difference and help the voices of young people be heard.
“This was a fantastic opportunity. I have been with the YMCA for five years but on Friday I experienced a new Y, a new workplace culture and a different environment which was so exciting,” Anthony said.
As CEO, Anthony’s day was jam packed, he attended meetings and met with executives and senior leaders in order to gain a greater understanding of the different state office departments. He also presented to the whole office about his personal experiences at the Y.
Anthony said this opportunity allowed him to speak up for the young people of the YMCA. Young people (25 and under) make up 45% of our organisation and mostly work within a casual capacity.
The day also allowed Anthony to give recommendations to CEO Peter Burns from a recreation centre perspective with his focus on the importance of staff engagement.
“The YMCA Young CEO for a day is not just an exciting leadership opportunity to amplify young people’s voices and youth issues, but an opportunity for us to actually listen,” says Peter.
Anthony admits it was challenging at first taking on the big wig role, but encourages all young people to apply next year.
“You can make this opportunity what you want it to be… Speak up and they will listen!”