Youth and children together—ages 24 and younger—account for nearly 50 percent of the world's population and represent 41 percent of the world's unemployed people. In recent years, youth unemployment has swelled into a veritable epidemic, one that could threaten economic growth and social stability for decades to come.
Recognizing this as a challenge and an opportunity, in 2014 RTI launched a virtual learning and action center—the Global Center for Youth Employment—to assemble a diverse coalition of allies to identify and nurture innovative youth employment solutions.
The Center’s members—practitioners, universities, donors, and major corporations—play an integral, connected role in responding to the youth unemployment crisis. Spanning 100 countries, these members directly reach 1 million youth a year through workforce development and youth empowerment programming, with millions more impacted indirectly. The Center’s initiatives harness these collective capabilities to empower young people to succeed in the 21st century labor market.
Leveraging and Promoting Research and Best Practices to Foster Youth Employment
The Global Center for Youth Employment aims to leverage and promote empirical research and cutting-edge, evidence-based and evidence-producing practices aimed at significantly improving the worldwide employment of youth. Partners include workforce development experts from universities, NGOs, foundations, and the private sector.
The Center supports education and training efforts that meet employers’ specific needs, connect young people to existing jobs, and increase new employment opportunities.
Connecting Researchers and Gathering Youth Input and Perspective
Since founding the Center, we have spearheaded events and seed-funded projects to help drive research into the global unemployment crisis and uncover potential solutions.
To set its agenda, the Center held an Ideathon to select promising projects for funding and development—including a pioneering digital storytelling initiative known as Youth Voices. This initiative brought the Center together with the GroundTruth Project, joining forces and inviting millennials from around the world to share their experiences with employment and entrepreneurship. Under Youth Voices, participant stories are judged by a panel and winners receive help to develop their stories for submission to GroundTruth publishers such as The Atlantic, Huffington Post, and PBS News Hour.
Other projects that emerged from the Ideathon and are underway with Center support include
- An impact evaluation of LinkedIn usage by marginalized youth in South Africa
- An online toolkit of resources, best practices, effective approaches, and case studies to guide youth organizations and private businesses interested in engaging with online “microwork” platforms
- The development and testing of a credentialing framework to help entrepreneurs get credit for their business experience, and reduce the risk of failure for new businesses.
As we continue leading the Global Center for Youth Employment, we will foster the use of research and knowledge in workforce development and education to not only shed light on the crisis, but also to recommend practical steps for addressing youth unemployment based upon a research agenda, field testing, and tools for scaling evidence-based practices.