The Guest Blog

Financial education is more relevant and needed than ever. In the current economic and social climate, now more than ever we must seize opportunities, understand risks, innovate, and create livelihoods.

While efforts to enhance the economic capabilities of young people are currently more advanced than in previous generations, misunderstandings about the relevance of financial education continues to exist, with some commentators arguing that financial education is necessary only for the poor and irresponsible.

However, a glance at the opportunities and challenges young people in Europe face in finding a job, buying their first homes and juggling mounting debts demonstrates the need for a comprehensive and collective action on economic capabilities. We expect our students and young people to manage these issues, but without any training or support. It is no surprise that over 40 million young people are unemployed in Europe and employers cannot plug the skills gap.

Financial education is for everyone, and it is crucial that government policies and strategies are in place to support individuals from all backgrounds, across a range of financial and social needs and capabilities.

The road to financial literacy

As it becomes apparent that financial literacy is a core life skill for participating in modern society, government bodies and policy makers are beginning to recognize the need for dedicated policies and strategies, particularly with the goal of supporting youth with becoming the next generation of capable adults – but there remains much to be done.

Discussions around its importance and need of financial education implementation started in 2005 when the OECD launched its first publication on financial education, in Europe still only a few countries have recognized financial education as a priority, created national strategies and actionable plans for implementation of such strategies and integrated financial education in the national curricula.

Financial literacy levels are particularly low amongst young people in Europe, and there is now increased incentive to promote financial education initiatives and pass on knowledge and skills. The global network campaigning for and youth-inclusive economic policies and banking systems, the Child & Youth Finance Movement, promotes collaboration and innovation as part of designing and implementing financial education policies.

In the fast-paced, interconnected world we live in, policy around financial education must be backed up with access to services. In the digital era, many of us cannot imagine life without internet and mobile phones. Digital financial innovation is moving faster than any other regulatory authority, and all over the developed world the regulators are trying to keep up the pace with the innovations, ensuring a safe environment for operation while not strangling innovation.

It is also important that the countries which are leading the way are recognized and applauded for their efforts to design and implement platforms and policies for financial education. Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) has collaborated with the German Presidency of the G20 to recognize efforts of individuals, organizations and countries that have achieved success in financial education and financial inclusion for young people.

Working together to share best practices and making innovations work for the future offers the opportunity to harness financial education to promote financial literacy, create jobs and secure social and financial security.

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