Education for Employment
Social Enterprise: Education for Employment
Social Entrepreneur(s): Jamie McAuliffe, Ron Bruder
Sector(s): Education, Employment
Location(s): Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen
Put the business needs of the private sector “front and centre” in the design and delivery of the solution.
The Innovation Explained
Education For Employment (EFE) addresses two problems simultaneously: the skill gap resulting from educational systems that fail to prepare graduates for private-sector needs, and the opportunity divide facing low-income, talented youth who do not have the contacts or the soft skills to enter the job market.
When EFE enters a country, it assembles a stellar Board of Directors from the national business and educational communities who are personally and publicly committed to tackling the youth unemployment crisis. The Board members leverage their networks and credibility to raise EFE’s visibility in the business community, and send an important market signal to the major employers.
In each country EFE conducts market research to determine the future growth industries that suffer from a shortage of qualified job applicants. EFE then makes this offer to major employers in those sectors: “We will give entry-level candidates the skills they need to be ready to work on the job from day one. In return, you pre-commit to hiring a certain number of low-income youth who successfully graduate from our training programme.” Staff members of EFE’s employer partners also volunteer to mentor EFE trainees.
EFE’s training programme focuses on developing both hard and soft skills. It adapts world-class training modules on the hard skills required by specific industries and couples them with soft skill training to boost confidence, develop critical thinking and navigate professional work environments. These include modules on time and stress management, teamwork, public speaking and making presentations.
To date, EFE has placed 70% of its graduates into jobs at over 900 companies. In these jobs, graduates gain further access to continuing education and training, civic engagement opportunities and mentoring from professionals in their field, including other EFE alumni.
Why This Matters
With 25% of young Arab women and men unemployed, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. While many vocational programmes exist in MENA and elsewhere, few are tailored to the needs of the private sector, assist in job placement or hold themselves accountable for placing youth in retainable jobs. By acting as a full-solution model that provides integrated services of youth recruitment, training, job placement and ongoing mentoring, EFE provides a critical service that most companies lack. And because partner companies pre-commit to hiring EFE graduates, the model minimizes the transitional fallout between training and employment.
Keep a razor-sharp focus on what you do best. “As many organizations grow, they bring on new partners or donors who want them to do new things,” explains Jamie McAuliffe. “But chasing those dollars can lead to a diffusion of services and, ultimately, impact. We think of ourselves as a plug-in solution for the skill gap; [we] stay focused on training youth, placing them in jobs and supporting them through our alumni network so they can succeed, providing our business partners with the kinds of employees they are looking for.”
For the model to be sustainable, everyone needs “some skin in the game”. “When we first started, we had a lot of work to do to change employers’ mindsets that there is a huge untapped pool of human capital. So we kept fees very low to reduce barriers to participation. Now we are known for providing a great service, but it’s still at a highly subsidized rate. Our business partners pay about 20% of the cost, and our goal is to increase that to 50% over time, though their expectations need to be managed carefully. Our students, too, have to pay a nominal fee so they have some ‘skin in the game’, but we will need to review this over time while staying focused on the vulnerable population we care about,” says McAuliffe.