As people transition through various stages of education into the workforce, they face increasing hurdles to secure employment and career opportunities. There’s been a lot of public criticism about how the education system here in the U.S. is broken and, not surprisingly, it has a lot to do with cost. Across many industries and trades the price of buying an education has risen so high in the last 20 years that the cost of earning a degree eclipses what you can earn post-degree. Naturally, a lot of young people are rethinking their need to seek formal education as a direct result. Rightfully so. Most importantly, we’re starting to see broader negative consequences materializing across the country – skills across the population in important categories like math and science are declining in the aggregate, for instance. Not good. Clearly something’s got to give.
Currently about seventy-five million young people are unemployed globally and are looking for work. I don’t know the statistics in the US, but in the UK there are apparently around 1 million people between 16 and 24 who are unemployed. As I’m typing this, OpenIDEO, Barclays and The Work Foundation are supporting an open challenge to crowdsource solutions to help young people move into employment. They’ve framed the problem as one that applies mostly to the young, but I’d argue that it applies to anyone in the workforce who’s been laid off or would like to make a career switch that forces them to start over. The OpenIDEO challange is currently in the ‘refinement’ stage, so it’s a great time to start following along and joining the conversation. This is just my take, but I found that fewer solutions than I would have expected focused on different ways to get training cheaply, and more than I expected focused on helping students find a path through job discovery and trying out new careers before committing to a plan of action. Hat tip to Vishal Shah – I thought his solution in particular “The Uninternship” had a good mix of novelty, utility and promise.