What is the best way to reduce poverty, build community, and improve the world economy? Invest in youth employment.
Approximately half the world’s population is under 25 — an unprecedented demographic reality that creates real challenges and significant opportunities. We can tip the scales toward opportunity by helping the growing population of young people prepare for, find, and hold jobs. Today, more than 350 million young people worldwide are neither employed nor in school; their potential going unrealized and their life chances diminishing. Employment is the key to improving not only individual lives but also local communities and the world economy. The world’s unemployed youth include a quarter of young people in the Middle East and North Africa, nearly 20 percent of those in Europe and North America, and one in seven in Latin America and the Caribbean.3 At the same time, the growing global economy demands workers who have skills and are positioned to succeed. To meet the needs of both employers and the youth workforce, we must revolutionize how we prepare young people for work, connect young people to existing jobs, and ensure that there are enough good jobs available. Current solutions are insufficient because they are too fragmented and incremental. The Global Center for Youth Employment combines innovation with public/private collaboration to provide a more strategic approach to this global challenge.
The Global Center for Youth Employment is a virtual learning and action center that brings together a broad, diverse coalition of allies to identify and nurture innovative youth employment solutions.
The Center is focused on solutions that:
- Are systemic and can be widely replicated.
- Have clear success metrics and rigorous evidence behind them.
- Are the result of collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including local participants, to ensure fit.
In particular, the Center supports efforts that:
1. Provide education and training that meet employers’ specific needs
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) completed a survey in 2015 of 1,300 company leaders from 77 countries, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 73 percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of employees with key skills, up from 63 percent just one year earlier.4 The Center and its partners are working to make sure that workers have the skills local employers need.
- ConnectEd and RTI International are working to adapt Linked Learning for the developing world. Linked Learning is a proven U.S. model that integrates academics, technical education, and real-world experience at the secondary school level. Students follow industry-themed pathways that are planned and implemented with significant employer input. This model is significantly improving education and career outcomes for a wide range of U.S. students and should be relatively easy to adapt at a global scale.
2. Connect young people to existing jobs
Basic breakdowns in information sharing are a significant barrier to employment. Young people need to know what jobs exist, what skills they require, and how to apply. The Center and its partners are focused on helping young people answer these and other questions.
- Finding a job can be about who you know as much as what you know, and U.S. workers have found a range of benefits from building professional networks on LinkedIn. Now, Harambee, LinkedIn, and RTI are working to extend the LinkedIn platform to the developing world where it can help youth workers there develop networks and find jobs. In addition, LinkedIn will launch a new function that allows workers to indicate particular types of training they have completed and allows the training organizations to confirm this information on the employees’ LinkedIn profiles. Employers will get third-party verification of a potential employee’s skills, and trainers will be able to track the professional lives of their trainees, creating a significant pool of data to inform educational programs.
- To raise awareness of the youth perspective on employment—and to encourage more employers to hire youth—The GroundTruth Project and RTI are giving young people around the world a platform to share videos and stories about what working means (or could mean) to them.
3. Increase new employment opportunities
Even in the best workforce development systems, there may not be enough jobs to employ all youth seeking work. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for as much as 70 percent of jobs in advanced countries and an average of 30 percent of jobs worldwide.5 The Center and its partners are helping entrepreneurs and SMEs create more jobs for youth.
- Acceleration Group is introducing Cred fellowships, which sponsor young entrepreneurs as they make the case for their ideas, validate their concepts, and recruit supporters. As a result of these Cred fellowships, some young entrepreneurs will prove their concepts and create job-providing companies. Moreover, all young entrepreneurs will learn skills that transfer to other jobs and will be able to explain the value of these skills to future employers.
- Micro-work is an emerging phenomenon that can provide a variety of new work opportunities, particularly for individuals with mobility constraints or who face discrimination in the traditional labor market. Banyan Global and Future Work are conducting research on micro-work and exploring ways to scale this model.
Collaborative innovation, research, and action drive the Center’s work.
The Center systematically brings together unique perspectives, expertise, and capabilities to develop solutions that address the youth employment problem from every angle. The Center and its partners have developed two primary work streams:
1. Identifying and supporting scientifically rigorous programs. We host intensive innovation discovery and planning sessions that develop a set of tools and prototypes within the Center’s portfolio of innovation projects.
2. Guiding a coordinated research agenda. We collaborate on collective research projects and disseminate knowledge through publications and thought-shaping presentations.