Youth unemployment is perhaps one of the most pressing problems in today’s society, in developing and developed nations alike. According to 2014 consensus, International Labour Organization estimates that 14% of the world’s 15-24 year olds are unemployed. We can only imagine how much it has increased in recent years. There are myriad reasons that can be identified as a cause for this alarming phenomenon. Saturated markets, fewer and fewer jobs being created every year, technological advancement and automation replacing human labour – the list goes on. Of all these, the most identifiable of trends is the fact that youth seek jobs when they graduate. We thus assume that lack of jobs is leading to unemployment (note: only involuntary unemployment is being addressed here.)
The solution for lack of job creation is simple – more jobs being created. Thus, we have identified a core problem to all the underlying problems addressed above – “the lack of entrepreneurship curriculum leads to the lack of self employment capacity.” Entrepreneurs are those who are job creators, who can become employers. The problem with today’s youth is their lack of entrepreneurial mindset. A number of problems can be traced back to this core problem. Using the cause and effect method while forming the Action Agenda for Change 2020, we have identified some root causes for this lack of entrepreneurial mindset.
- Lack of organized information about entrepreneurship, self learning and community engagement.
- Current curriculum taught in schools and universities are archaic and do not teach students to be active citizens.
- Current teaching methods make teachers into authority figures, not facilitators who enable their students to be innovative thinkers and problem solvers.
- Non-formal education, a goldmine for self learning and fostering self-improvement and self-employment capacity, is not recognized as a tool to augment formal education methods.
We have mapped out a problem tree that shows exactly what cause these problems, and what the effects are:
- Since there is lack of information, youth is unable to explore entrepreneurship opportunities to gain skills. They are also not able to get involved in community engagement, and in many cases the perceived value of community engagement is low.
- Current curricula focuses on theoretical learning, and learning in a structure. The system creates job seekers instead of creators. However, they are not taught enough skills to make them employable or innovative in the real world. Moreover, current grading systems as defined by governments put excessive stress on passing exams as a way of ascertaining the value of success and skill of an individual. This leads to moving potential youth further away from exploring their own capabilities through extracurricular activities that involve entrepreneurship and community engagement of any sort.
- Current teaching methods make teachers authority figures. They do not deviate from school/university sanctioned lesson plans. As a result, they do not promote free thinkers, innovators, or problem solvers. Teachers are just not trained to take a more holistic learning approach.
- Non-formal education is not recognized as a genuine tool for learning. Moreover, due to the disorganized activities of this sector, there are not recognizable indicators of impact measurements to define this sector as a success, and give it significance.
Identifying the problems leads to identifying solutions, and thus the following goals need to be met:
- All information about community engagement, entrepreneurial opportunities and entrepreneurship curriculum need to be organized on a single platform, easily accessible to all. Afterwards, this platform must be disseminated among the youth, so that they know exactly where to access such information.
- Current curriculum needs to be updated. Since changing the existing curriculums, which were set by government organizations, is quite a feat, another option can be to introduce some informal education tools and capacity building tools to work hand in hand with the existing education frameworks.
- Setting up of more teacher training centres, with the trainings focusing on having teachers use more holistic learning approaches will lead to them becoming facilitators who not only teach students to be thinkers, but also provide them with information should they want to pursue community engagement, skill building and entrepreneurship.
- One of the biggest steps to combatting our problem statement is to foster collaboration between the formal and non-formal education sectors. To do so, non-formal education sector must become organized, with all information accessible under one common platform. Moreover, key indicators must be identified to measure the success of non-formal education methods, so that their significance can be easily translatable and understood.
The easiest place to start these activities is by collaborating with schools. Once the non-formal education sector, and all organizations working in social development capacity of any sort congregate in one platform, the information is organized and freely accessible. Interested parties will then know where to go to find respective information. Universities, schools and teachers can be approached to add holistic learning methods and also provide related information to the students. Especially, teachers can be approached to organize students to start informal clubs where non-formal education tools can be used to improve self-employment capacity. Once more students know about their options, more students will innovate new ways to make a living, solve societal problems through entrepreneurship and create employment for future youth. Lastly, using non-formal education tools and organizing their activities will enable a better chance at impact measurement to prove their significance and advantage in augmenting formal education. This may lead to the government organizations becoming more inclined to help in creating collaboration between the formal and non-formal education sector. Bottom-line, the youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and as such, fostering entrepreneurial mindset and community engagement will lead them to not only create more jobs, but to think of ways to change the social and environmental issues of the world in a sustainable manner.
This article is written by a group of changemakers from Switzerland, Palestine and Bangladesh as part of the Changemakers’ Room 2016 series, conducted by Make Room India. #AAC2020