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6 Incredible Innovators Empowering Youth with Skills for the Future

According to the UN, young people are almost three times as likely to be unemployed than adults, and they are continually exposed to a lower quality of jobs, greater labor market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions.

At the same time, the start of the 21st century has been marked by rapid advances in technology, and while new technology can increase labor productivity, it also creates job displacement and widens the skills gap. A job for life is now a thing of the past, and the World Bank estimates that 4 out of 5 children entering primary school today will eventually hold jobs that do not currently exist.

To ensure stable futures for themselves, young people need to learn the right skills that fill changing market needs. For that, they need access to quality education. That’s why on World Youth Skills Day, we’re highlighting 6 innovative Solver teams building initiatives that foster the critical skills young people will need to thrive.

1) 40K Plus

In remote villages around the world, education is limited by fluctuating electricity, little-to-no internet, and an unavailability of quality teachers. 40K PLUS bridges this gap by transforming village classrooms into tablet-based learning centers using their Planet PLUS app.

On Planet PLUS, a team of superheroes transports students through six levels of primary English. Village community members run classes, where their role is to motivate and inspire students. The app tracks student performance and syncs data between online and offline environments, enabling rapid analysis and intervention even without internet access.

2) The Ultimate Learning Accelerator

Education takes place both in school and at home. But for most children in the developing world, schools are poorly equipped and managed, and parents are often busy working multiple jobs. The Ultimate Learning Accelerator (TULA) transforms after-school learning to help children improve their academic performance, develop character traits, and enhance 21st-century skills.

TULA establishes tech-enabled centers near public schools and uses project-based learning to deliver personalized learning experiences, helping kids build the life skills they need to succeed in the real world.

3) ScriptEd

In the US, the tech sector has become a poster child for lack of diversity and inclusion. And as the current education system fails to properly prepare students—particularly those from under-resourced schools—for careers in tech, that problem will persist. Enter ScriptEd, a program bringing tuition-free computer programming courses to underserved high schools in tech hubs.

With courses taught by a volunteer corps of over 200 software developers, ScriptEd’s programs include technical training, professional role models, paid engineering internships, and ongoing professional development. ScriptEd students establish direct connections to the tech industry and go on to secure well-paid computing jobs to take control of their economic futures.

4) Kolorob Jobs

In Bangladesh, where the underemployment rate is 40 percent, many young people work in low-paid hazardous jobs. To help them leave this exploitative work, Kolorob Jobs’ digital platform enables youth to find blue collar jobs in the formal sector.

The platform has three primary features: it posts verified job opportunities, provides youth with training opportunities through accredited institutions, and matches job-seeker profiles with suitable employers. The platform also tracks feedback on job seekers, making it easier for employers to find the right candidates.

5) Baan Dek Foundation

In Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, many disadvantaged children are not exposed to sufficient opportunities for critical thinking and positive social development. Through their Digital Superheroes Academy (DSHA), the Baan Dek Foundation expands children’s opportunities for development. DSHA is an educational app that teaches children critical thinking, soft, and life skills while also teaching responsible use of technology.

The curriculum is based on an existing program in which 15 life skills are taught to children in 30 slums in Chiang Mai, Thailand. These life-skill “superpowers” strengthen children's ability to learn and grow. The app also monitors use, measures learning outcomes, and even determines possible e-learning extension needs such as literacy and numeracy.

6) Open Learning Exchange

Around the world, poverty, violence, and climate chaos disrupt education for millions. To ensure that all people have the opportunity to learn, Open Learning Exchange (OLE) developed Planet Learning, a repository of free resources.

In OLE’s approach, local communities organize and maintain Community Learning Centers. At these centers, disadvantaged youth use a dashboard to personalize their learning experience and download a wealth of multimedia materials like books, courses, and team activities. Learners rate and comment on their materials, and course leaders track their progress. Periodically, leaders connect to the internet to receive new resources and upload learners’ activity data.

Inspired by these solutions? Get involved: applications to the 2018 Global Challenges closed July 1, and we’re in open feedback mode until July 20. Support future Solver teams by commenting and providing feedback on solutions to Solve’s 2018 Global Challenges.

Queen Rania, Julie Bishop, L Rafael Reif, Mark Reading, Alex Amouyel, and Youth, Skills & the Workforce of the Future Solver teams at the Solve Challenge Finals on September 17, 2017. (Photo: Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve)

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