This week I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Jan Owen, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians. We talk the future of work, education, dogs, cats, and have a laugh. A remarkable woman, doing pioneering work with youth in Australia and globally.

We talk about her lifelong passion for young people and their vast potential and creativity and her desire to tinker with the current education system and economy so we can pivot into a smarter, sustainable world with better social outcomes – a generative, compassionate and fulfilling world that young people want and need and ultimately what society needs too.

FYA has the largest platform for young australian’s to advocate for their needs in the country. 150,000 members.

We talk about her background in social enterprise and the future of work – how the it’s the WAY of learning that will change. She talks of the future and that there will be a new arrangement between employers, employees and educational institutions. Powerful stuff. 

Loved hearing about the FYA program $20 Boss – in schools now – providing a new way of learning which is so needed – “You may do a digital platform one year, a service provision into the community in another year. You might do an online advocacy campaign the next year. You learn A LOT of skills. A school in Christmas Island set up 25 businesses in one term.” Seriously cool. 

So whether its young people interested in social entrepreneurship to solve local problems (including naming a few bright sparks, although admittedly she said they are all pretty amazing) or young people setting up business through the $20 Boss program, FYA’s work and the platforms and programs they are building to support our next generation of learners, scientists and entrepreneurs are gaining huge momentum and will have an impact on education and young people’s relationship with work and how they engage with their learning. 

She encourages our youth to get their degree or diploma, get into a ‘cluster’ they are interested in and start working a way through that. FYA’s research has found there’s up to 13 other jobs available in front of them that have the same skills and capabilities needed for the job they have gone into. A liberating thought.

Jan Owen is relentlessly optimistic about our youth, but more than anything, deeply committed to work out what society can do to support, assist, and GET OUT OF THEIR WAY (regulation can you hear us?) –  to actually enable them to create the world THEY want to live in. Because all their thinking, all their smarts and all the skills and capabilities they have in spades will be for naught if we don’t support them by rethinking learning to create more opportunity for them to succeed.  And when they succeed, we all succeed. 

We talk about so much, this is just a smattering of our chat. Enjoy!

Show Notes

If you have any questions or want to touch base about someone you would like to hear as a guest on the show just contact me through twitter at @lizziemettam or via email on