«I was hugely impressed»
At the end of April, 30 young adults from across Switzerland had a go at tackling realistic cases relating to various companies at the SEF.NextGen spring camp, organized by the Swiss Economic Forum. Swiss Post also provided the camp with a sample case and has been supporting the project as a key partner for the last three years. In this interview, Head of Career Entry at Swiss Post Bruno Schumacher discusses the camp, the Swiss Post case and what happens to the young people’s ideas.
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Bruno, this time last week you were still at the SEF.NextGen camp. How was the atmosphere there?
A really positive ambience – engaged young people who are extremely motivated. It was nothing like the common opinion floating around these days that young people aren’t that motivated and don’t really get involved. The young people were curious, engaged and very open-minded. They want to make a difference, and they see a purpose to what they’re doing. Many of them have already founded their own company or gained experience in entrepreneurship. It was wonderful to be able to discuss ideas with them. They think big and have plans. And I’m delighted that Swiss Post was able contribute to the project.
Did anything surprise you at the SEF.NextGen camp?
I was hugely impressed – the energy and creativity they showed, not to mention the engagement and motivation it took to present their results at the end of the week. And not just any old results – surprising, cool results.
What are the greatest challenges facing Swiss Post when it comes to remaining relevant to school-age children and young people?
The first big challenge is finding a way to reach this young target group. Politically speaking, this is a sensitive target group that is tricky to contact. And there are particularly stringent requirements associated with data protection. The second challenge is working out how to make the young target group associate their experience of Swiss Post with positive emotions rather than thinking: “Oh great, here comes the big yellow giant to steamroll us.” No, they should feel that they’re being taken seriously and truly spoken to. And there’s a real art to that.
But now we want to know: what are young people thinking? What insights have you taken from the SEF.NextGen camp?
First of all, we can build from a very good basis: young people have a positive impression of Swiss Post. Swiss Post is present and likeable, and everyone recognizes us. Our colour, Swiss Post yellow, also creates a bond. Another adjective young people associate with us: trustworthy. They trust Swiss Post, but they also expect it to fulfil its duty of providing the best possible public service. Above all, it should take on responsibility in educational and social matters. A large number of suggestions and ideas were provided for these two dimensions. Nothing was offered for the “products and services” dimension, however.
Why do you think that is?
I think the participants at the camp may have found it difficult to envisage what a product or service for a ten-year-old child could look like. However, one clear image that had crystallized from the results of the 2022 autumn camp: all groups have figured out digital solutions, be that in the form of a platform or an app. That’s why we decided to add the physical components to our three dimensions at the 2023 spring camp – in other words, our Swiss Post branches, logistics centers, administrative buildings, PostFinance branches and Postbuses.
Why? What’s the goal behind this?
We wanted to connect these components to the young generation – because while it’s true that young people are digitally savvy, they are also very rooted in their local area. A ten-year-old child won’t travel to Zurich just because something is happening over there. So we have to come to them – in keeping with our raison d’être and vision. We want to be close to people and present everywhere. And how do we do that without inventing something new? With our physical presence.
What will happen to the young people’s ideas now? What are the next steps?
We will now evaluate the material we’ve gathered from both camps and develop concrete suggestions on how we would like to proceed. Our idea and ambition is to get straight into the “doing”, as it were: piloting, deploying, implementing, testing, acquiring learnings, dealing with hurdles and so on.
Will young people also be involved on the implementation side?
Absolutely! We’re not sure in what way they will be involved. However, I can very well imagine working with our internal networks such as Young Voice and Insieme. One thing is certain: we want to involve young people as much as possible. Without question.
Young people are up to the challenge, and like you said, they’re not inclined to just sit back. How can Swiss Post harness this commitment even more strongly in future?
We’re already doing a lot as far as vocational training is concerned. Around 1,900 young people are given the opportunity to join us every year. They are trained in a wide range of skills and are able to take on responsibility. As well as this, they are given the chance to engage with social and environmental issues. However, there is always room for improvement. It is crucial for us to approach young people more, invite them to take part, listen to them and enter into dialogue with them. But also try things out, too. Both are required. We need to do one without neglecting the other. I believe that will enable us to progress more quickly.
Don’t miss your chance and join us at the next camp!
The SEF.NextGenTarget not accessible autumn camp will take place from 16 to 20 October 2023. Are you open-minded, curious, bold, unconventional, part of Generation Z (between 18 and 26 years old) and eager to get involved? If so, secure a place before they’re all gone! Click here to register.Target not accessible