Today, young people play an undeniably fundamental role in the creation of a more just society: throughout the world, they are getting involved, submitting recommendations and solutions, and are pushing boundaries further than ever. According to the 2021 study ‘Les chiffres clés de la jeunesse’ (key figures on young people)* by INJEP (French National Institute for Popular Education and Youth), in France, 40 % of those aged 18 to 30 allocate some of their time to volunteering within an association or another organisation such as a political party or a trade union. In 2020, 47% signed a petition or defended a cause on a social network and 19% participated in a strike or protest. However, civic commitment through voting is steadily decreasing: according to the same study, 20.2% of people aged 18-24 did not vote in any of the rounds of the 2017 presidential or legislative elections. However, the growing mistrust in politicians has not caused a decrease in civic action: the study 'Le regard des jeunes Français sur les enjeux sociaux’ (the perception of young French people on social challenges)**, carried out by IFOP, indicates that 41% of respondents aged 18-24 feel that the main actor in social challenges is the citizen, ahead of public authorities (34%). For those who provided an answer, the best way to act is to volunteer time (80%), to create an association (80%) and to mobilise people around you (79%). In terms of issues, the environment and gender equality are deemed most important by young people.
Raising-awareness from a young age
In order to promote this commitment, education and awareness-raising evidently play a fundamental role. In this context, the National Education system is far from being the only stakeholder: other important actors include the family, the associative world and the business world. As such, at ENGIE, there is a strong commitment to provide key data and guidelines to young people to help them better understand the world and create their own opinions. The Group encourages them to get involved in environmental issues while having fun, by asking them to reflect on current and future solutions, and by fostering their sense of initiative, open-mindedness to the world and creativity. The 'J'apprends l'énergie’ (I’m learning energy) programme reflects this desire: approved by the French Ministry of Education, it has been running for almost ten years and is aimed at students from primary to secondary school. As explained by Cécile Barbier, Director of the programme at ENGIE, “it aims to provide the public with reliable and up-to-date information in a rapidly-changing context, and to provide young people with knowledge to promote mobilisation.” Every year, several hundred Group ambassadors run more than 150 events, offering fun and innovative activities adapted to the levels of the students: serious game and escape game, interactive diagrams, games, etc. This well-rounded programme is perfect for creating discussions around energy and climate issues. “In general, our audience really identifies with these issues,” adds Cécile Barbier. “Young people ask questions, suggest ideas, and love interacting with our experts, etc. They show genuine interest and this is very encouraging for our collective future!”
Inviting young people to express and share their views of the world
Children have played the smallest role in climate change, yet they are the first to suffer. As part of an ENGIE People Lab and alongside the start-up Edtech Plume, a writing contest for children aged 8-12 on the subject of air quality was launched in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes area in France.. “In total, we received more than 600 submissions,” recalls Anne Archambault, ENGIE Regional Delegate, Head of CSR. “Our expectations were greatly exceeded, and this is proof that the topic is of great importance to young people. Raising-awareness among young people is a major challenge for the future and contests of this nature are excellent drivers. We were absolutely amazed by all the beautiful ideas and creativity in the submissions!” In parallel, ENGIE continues to develop its educational approach by working closely with the Local Education Authority offices and energy business campuses of Grenoble city in France. The aim is to participate in the definition of the training programmes so that they align, as closely as possible, with the changes and challenges of the energy transition.
Fostering initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit
Becoming forward-looking citizens of tomorrow means being able to transform ideas into concrete projects and also to face the very real issues surrounding their implementation. Setting out to do just this, the Science Factor contest promotes entrepreneurship among teens aged 11 to 18 and helps them develop an idea, create it, providing them with guidance from multidisciplinary experts. Lionel Nadau, energy storage expert at ENGIE, provided support to the ‘PLEM’ team, winner of the 2020 ENGIE Energy Awards. “They developed a great concept, a thermo-cell capable of producing electricity from a heat source,” he explains. “They were the least bit concerned about time and worked on their projects alongside their studies. I am blown away by their passion; they are very curious, avid learners and are progressing so rapidly that their innovations may well make their way into industrial sector one day.”
In the same spirit, we have the Change Mak'Her programme which is exclusively aimed at girls. Still under-represented in technological sectors, this programme aims at encouraging young girls to project themselves in digital or technological job. Community Manager within ENGIE, Virginie Abel, 2021 programme sponsor: “I had the pleasure of working alongside passionate young girls that led sustainable development, gender equality and inclusion projects,” she recalls. “Thanks to social networks and the internet, this young generation is highly informed. It is encouraging to see the way in which they adopt issues that are important for the future, and the extent to which they are invested in the city. “The girls I have accompanied are mostly from secondary schools. They are vigilant and concerned, and are aware that they have a role to play. This fun and practical programme gives insight into the business world, allowing them to save time when they enter the world of work. It is very refreshing to see them get involved and grow! ”
True drivers of change, the young girls show their willingness to actively contribute to the construction of a new, better world. These programmes also demonstrate that these young girls take joy in their conviction, and share this joy. It cannot be stressed enough: young people play a vital role in societies and allow us to build the world of tomorrow with peace of mind. We must, as of now, give them the opportunity to try new things, experiment and create. For this reason, ENGIE continues to support and foster these positive initiatives.
*Study published in March 2021 according to data French ministerial statistical services, INSEE and public bodies that produce data on young people
**IFOP survey “Le regard des jeunes Français sur les enjeux sociaux” carried out among a sample of 1,000 people, representative of the French population aged 18 to 34, from 15 to 20 January 2021