The Challenge


How can we equip young people with the skills, information and opportunities to succeed in the world of work?

Challenge Brief

As young people transition through various stages of education into the workforce, they face increasing hurdles to secure gainful employment and career opportunities. Today, seventy-five million young people are unemployed globally and within the UK over a million 16 to 24 year-olds are looking for work. Together with your help, OpenIDEO, Barclays and The Work Foundation are eager to explore these issues and identify solutions to help young people move into employment.

The world in 2012 faces a stark reality; out of a global labour force of 3.3 billion, 200 million are unemployed. The situation is especially desperate for young people – 75 million are unemployed globally and, within the UK, over a million 16 to 24 year olds are currently looking for work. These dim prospects for youth sow the seeds for disengagement and apathy, continued social unrest and a challenging global economy. 

Clearly, there are gaps: gaps between demand and supply; gaps in skills; gaps between geographies and gaps between opportunities and outcomes that all need addressing urgently. Nonetheless, despite these challenges, there are still reasons to be optimistic.

Understanding the Context

This challenge centres on a deeply complex issue with many facets. In addressing the needs of young people, we must consider that different types of transitions might require different solutions. Transitioning from school to work at 16 is likely to be quite different to finishing graduate studies, in the same way that taking on casual ‘holiday work’ is unlikely to be comparable to the transition to full-time employment.

Different generations may experience similar and also varying hurdles when entering the workforce. Some may be lacking the ‘soft skills’ needed for work, such as social and creative abilities; others may be facing the prospect of short-term employment without prospects for long-term career growth.

Some initial issues contributing to youth unemployment include:
  • The need for ‘soft’ as well as functional skills - including social, communication and creative skills
  • A geographic mismatch between where jobs are created and where skills are developed
  • Changes in industrial structure where a decline in manufacturing has meant that entry-level employment may be shifting to other industries, such as service and hospitality
  • The need for career growth opportunities beyond entry-level employment

At the same time, educational and career pathways are more varied than ever before. Advancements in digital technologies have also created entirely new industries with career paths previous generations could never have imagined. And social networks give today’s young people unprecedented access to new connections and opportunities.

This OpenIDEO challenge aims to bring together a diverse global community – including business leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, policy makers, journalists and young people themselves – to help identify a range of innovative, scalable solutions to the challenge of youth unemployment.

Outcomes and Impact

The discussions and concepts generated in this challenge will be reviewed by an expert panel with representatives from Barclays, The Work Foundation and beyond.

As a result of this challenge, Barclays and The Work Foundation will publish a report documenting the opportunities, concepts and themes which have emerged from the challenge. The report will be shared globally in the hope that it will serve as an ongoing resource to influence large-scale initiatives as well as grassroots projects within communities that innovatively help equip young people with the skills, information and opportunity to succeed in the world of work.

About Barclays and The Work Foundation

Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in personal banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth and investment management, with an extensive international presence in Europe, The Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs 140,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

The Work Foundation (part of Lancaster University) aims to be the leading independent international authority on work and its future, influencing policy and practice for the benefit of society. The Work Foundation is leading ‘The Missing Million’ – a two-year, solutions-focused project with the aim of increasing the employment prospects of young people in the UK.

Community & Social Media Manager

 Meena Kadri

Our Challenge Administrators

Check out how our global community is contributing – and the impact so far!

Comment on the Brief

If you'd like to leave us your thoughts on this brief, tell us what you think. Be sure to also check out the challenge

Join the conversation and post a comment.

Fei Xin

April 09, 2014, 05:35AM
According to the survey results "seventy-five million young people are unemployed globally and within the UK over a million 16 to 24 year-olds are looking for work". Why is this happening? especially for young people. My opinion is that the young people are lack of work experience. Many companies were hiried people which is have much work experience as a condition. But for the young people who was just graduated from college, this is an obvious weakness. The young people learned skills and knowledges in college were difficult to play a role in practice. From the company's point of view, training young people without work experience to take more time, and they cannot bring benefits to the company in short-term. But for the long-term position, young people have more stronger plasticity. Therefore, I hope more companies to give young people opportunity for job in the future. The young people also need to cultivate responsibility and positive work attitude.

Selina Jackson

March 29, 2014, 23:25PM
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Congmin Liang

February 26, 2014, 01:38AM
As one of the people who post the rely said, if the young people find a job, they might not to change it. And right now, it is not that easy to get a job after you graduated from collage. So if you have any chance to get a job, you won't want to change it unless you could get a better one. But it is a very hard thing you need to face.

Edmund Ng

November 18, 2013, 05:44AM
I think it's time the Education Ministers start to ponder into how realistic the courses are and how it would lead to real employment. Comparing between Universities, Junior Colleges and Polytechnic system in Singapore, it's clear that polytechnics allow youths to really pursue their passion in learning and more importantly, they are typically assured of jobs when they graduate.

This has got to do with the fact that the educational institutions, typically the Polytechnics, do work closely with the private sector industries when deciding how many classes they should open for that year, ensuring there would not be an overflow of students graduating with similar skill sets.

Perhaps this is why they are so successful. Whenever the aviation or semi conductor industries are looking for engineers, they would first inform the Polytechnics and work with them to craft out a 3 year syllabus that would ensure they pump out ready to work engineers once they graduate.

In Singapore, it's slightly more challenging for the guys as we need to serve a 2 year national service as soldiers. That is why the planning should consider that and planned in a long term manner, to ensure competitiveness. The industries also have on job training attachments to make the students familiar with working in a real environment.

Students wouldn't know what soft skills they need to have in order to find jobs. That is why the educational institutions and the government should play a bigger part. Failure to plan ahead will result in a country with lot's of degree holders but not enough suitable jobs. Such as the situation in Philippines and India.

Edmund Ng

Book Citroen

October 13, 2013, 18:02PM
In fact ,what are our needs before thinking to be a successful man/woman who has a good job and nice incomes?Do we really know what we need? Having a job means we can survive in this world,but it always doesn't mean we are enjoying our life.
from my stand point,only enjoying what we are doing can we be more skillful and creative .You love it,so do the best.Why?I like that,why not do better ?Maybe I can do something different to make it more interesting and challenging.
Naturally,as a result ,we are being what we are enjoying to be,and at the meantime,we become someone who is needed dramatically in a certain area.
Really,there are so many situations that cause unsatisfactory.We need to realize who are making choices for ourselves.That's WE.Change ourselves at first.How to love ourselves,and respect ourselves?Follow your heart after reading ancient thinkers' books.They will tell you what are their passions going ahead.Walk after them,and gradually you will know how to know what are your passion going ahead.Respect your answer ,and get your answer into practice.More specific answer will generate in your heart (Nobody else can help you get that) .
Get back to you following your heart .There is no doubt you will do your best in every current moments.Your surviving as a working man/woman,is the reward for liking to do your best in a task attracting you.


September 21, 2013, 13:31PM

Charles Humphries

June 25, 2013, 14:20PM
Humans are by nature inquisitive explorers. Anyone who has seen a toddler explore the world can see our instinct need to learn and discover at play. So the challenge is how to keep such love for learning alive. With regards to the specific challenge, we have seem to have forgotten that schools are not there to teach children everything they might need in life; rather they are there to nurture that innate passion for learning. Today's companies have also forgotten that in order to do a particular job, one must first learn it. On-The-Job training has virtually disappeared. Companies have shifted to expecting new-hires who know everything there is to know about a job before they hire them at inexperienced salaries. However, when a person already knows everything there is to know about a job, the challenge and excitement fade away and productivity begins to suffer. It is any wonder why the new reported today that 70% of Americans hate their job? If a new hire already knows everything, he or she will likely not stick around since you have nothing else to offer. The key lies in two areas: Firstly, schools that nurture the innate passion for learning and discovery. This can be accomplished by adding experiential learning to the book learning. Why is it important to know that 2+2 = 4? Then we need corporations that take advantage of such learning passion and help mold the next set of new-hires. In other words, rather than expecting new employees to know everything already, continue to teach and coach them throughout their careers. Offer them opportunities where they might not yet know everything; give them the chance to rise to the challenge of learning new things to solve real-world problems.

Suzanne Scott

May 30, 2013, 15:39PM
Having worked with at risk teenagers, it seems to me that young people in dire living situations are so busy allocating their personal resources to securing safe space, identifying people they can truly trust and rely on, or simply finding their next meal, they have little or nothing left to allocate to developing "soft skills." Soft skills can't take seed in a "hard life."

Kids who completed the program I was with actually went on to a level of life success that prior would have been impossible. Part of why the program is successful is that it provides that safe setting, trustworthy and reliable helpers, and a high level of commitment to excellence on the part of both the students and adult volunteers. Soft skill building is also one of the corner stones of the program.

More of this type of approach could be helpful, and it is not hard, or cost prohibitive to replicate.

Carollynn Goldenberg

May 21, 2013, 00:21AM
I do not believe it is just the "young person" lacking skills. Rather I feel there is a catch 22 with finding a job. You cannot get a job without experience but you cant get experience without a job. I have two college degrees and several internships under my belt, but I am left with having to apply for more internships out of college because I 'don't have enough experience' for a full time position.

Rupert Angel

July 23, 2013, 13:17PM
Maybe the challenge is helping companies understand how to identify then teach the skills they need - quickly. Too often companies do not understand what they are really looking for, particularly central HR teams, and as the range of skills and professions multiplies this is only going to get worse. If companies do not value the right experiences the catch 22 gets worse

karla caicedo

March 20, 2013, 17:45PM
It IS a big problem. I´m a just graduated mechanical engineer from Ecuador. In my school and specially in my carrer, students graduate with the purpose of getting a job in a big company and $750 a month is considered by many a good salary. The basic food basket has a cost of $600, so that salary is actually really low. I have many graduated friends who work for even less than $500 monthly and companies take advantage of them making them work unpaid overhours and weekends. Findind a job can be hard and finding a really good one is really hard. And even with that, very few may think of creating their own business, a small shop or something. That does not help the economy or the develop of our country at all.

Harold Babcock-Ellis

March 19, 2013, 13:55PM
I agree with the comment below. The trend towards companies feeling that they shouldn't have to train is just ridiculous. The "raw materials" are there and companies need to stop being cheap and accept that they need to train.
I know I'm looking at this from an America centric point of view and youth unemployment throughout the world is much worse than it is here and it has much greater challenges.
This is an important issue. It's great to see it discussed.

Katie Chin

February 09, 2013, 16:51PM
Encourage companies to hire and then quickly train an inexperienced workforce. We are cheap, mold-able, and thirsty for whomever gives us their kool-aid first. Training shouldnt last more than a few months to a year or you lose attention. Give real responsibility fast so that we're quickly tied to a company. Expect more from us than you'd think initially. Even if we dont reach lofty goals, we've added what you'd think was sufficient in the first place. We've been waiting and will rise to a challenge. Get rid of 5- year experience jobs I see everywhere on job-postings. Repace two of these hires with three entry level at the same net price. Add a little work with training and then get more value out of the three than you would with the two. By hiring fresh minds, you do the wiring yourself rather than having to break down learned poor habits of the experienced. Teach the payoff to other companies and provide guidance on how to successfully create and iterate on the most beniftal training process for that specific company, industry, trade, etc.

karla caicedo

March 20, 2013, 17:52PM
I once had a teacher that told us that he didn´t agree on the government policy of companies having to pay the basic salary to interns. He said interns should pay companies to make their practices. I think that the problem may have 2 focuses: companies not understanding the worth and potential on young people that could refresh and innovate the industry, and young people not knowing their own value, how much they are worth and what they are capable of. We should be reminded constantly to give ourselves permission to be fabulous.


November 07, 2013, 04:27AM
many young people are looking for jobs, once they got one, they wouldn't change it. it is good opportune for companies to hire fresh mind and not high salary standers

Husha Bilimale

September 23, 2012, 07:28AM
Tom Kellys talk had a picture that contained 3 circles in a innovation talk and it applies here

1) What I am good at - ( Variety of skills that I am capable of performing )
2) What I am born to do - The skill/area that interests me that I am good at and able to do my best.
3) Will I get payed - Does the skill lead to employment ?

Julie DAgostino

September 20, 2012, 23:30PM
Bring apprenticeships into the mainstream. By allowing young people (15+) to learn from talented professionals in a variety of both blue and white collar jobs, they will gain exposure to new fields and industries, as well as soft skills mentioned in the article. Ideally, each year a new apprenticeship would be undertaken. Imagine the resume-building potential a 5-year apprenticeship veteran would have!

How many of us never knew a particular job existed until we met someone, well after college, in that role?

An aside, I read that Celtics player, Rajon Rondo took an unpaid internship at GQ magazine during the off-season. I think he would make a great role model to promote apprenticeships (and internships).

Adam Dunham

December 03, 2012, 05:53AM
I think that's a great point in terms of not only apprenticeships, but also in the world of "blue collar" trades. Fields that have been deemed with individuals with low ambition, and an incapacity for deep understanding. While the contrary is most often the case, many times plumbers, electricians, and contractors are earning equal or more to people in "white collar" industries. Obviously both categories of employment are fairly limited in the parameters, and generally vague. However with with an worsening world Economy, it seems as if these paths are beginning to become more dominant among a young generation, who has realized how shallow an office setting can be.

In retrospect it has been my experience that once you designate or fall into an industry, whether a family business, or a summer job turned year round. It places a great emphasis on one area disallowing for a better chance of jumping fields.

I think many college/university students are pushed and pushed to go and make money, do well, make partner that they forget about the world around them, and get swallowed. While a tradesmen has the time to address, and observe the world around them.

Although I also feel as though you're limiting the scope of your audience of young people, speaking to perhaps a higher middle class. Someone that does not realize the reality around them, and is simply out of touch.

Sasha Charlemagne

September 19, 2012, 15:01PM
Found an interesting article via and wanted to share...

"Tomorrow's Youth: The Making of Entrepreneurs"

Rebecca McKay

September 08, 2012, 08:45AM
In regards to the gaps in skills area, I think it would be beneficial to encourage partnerships between Universities and organizations. As a university student, I feel practical experience within the work place during tertiary level study would be beneficial as theory does not adequately give 'real-life' experiences for us students. Large companies could partner with universities and alternate students or set up some form of system supplying them with hands on experience. This scheme could be built into the tertiary level curriculum, where students have a certain number of hours they need to experience in order to receive credits.
In return for allowing students to work within these companies, maybe an agreement could be set up for the university to educate the partnering organizations current employees on relevant issues. This could be one day a month or a one week course etc.
I think companies would benefit from learning new knowledge from these university members, and will i enrich the younger generation/ possible employees.
 I understand internships etc. are already in place, but I think working in a collaboration between these two parties and working on a broader level will encourage students and employees to continue with education on all levels, providing a richer environment.

Jeremy Edmunds

September 04, 2012, 14:57PM
Use educational gamification tool to Inventory core values (via laddering). Leverage passions to fulfill current and emerging economic and social needs.

Robert Yawe

August 31, 2012, 08:50AM
The proliferation of smaller and smaller businesses is one of the biggest problem to youth unemployment as smaller companies do not have the resources to provide orientation and development.

As a small business owner I want someone to come on board and be productive from the day before they arrived which is difficult for someone who has just come out of school and has the teacher student mentality.

I believe that if governments offered incentives to small business owners that would allow them to spend time in nurturing the youth then we can make progress.

A manual would also need to be developed to assist those small business owners with integrating and managing the orientation process.

Jason Clarke

August 22, 2012, 19:59PM
The solution, in my opinion, will be wholisitc. What is driving the need for all of these 'jobs'? You have to have a job because you have to have money. Too many jobs are empty and fulfill no real need. Are you just looking to make sure that each of us lives a life of capitalist servitude? Society must change.


August 30, 2012, 14:01PM
I agree with this point. Why do we need to keep people in employment as though this is the thing to do? Is employment a means to keep the current economic system going? Is employment a means of keeping people busy? Is employment a means of keeping people in the game to create excess supply?

Rajeev Naik

August 22, 2012, 12:20PM
Knowledge is given to much importance over Imagination. So, over time , Desire dies down due to too much information and lack of passion.


November 07, 2013, 04:07AM
sorry, I disagree with you!
you cannot have a lot of knowledge in a field unless you have some sort of Passion with it.

Waqar Hassan

August 17, 2012, 12:19PM
This is an interesting challenge, but we must as the question, "why are young people unemployed" Its because the education system is failing them. I know this as im also a D&T teacher. The students who leave school lack even the most basic skills, and for them to gain a respectful job they need to improve this.

I believe such issues can be solved through a series of skill improving seminars/workshops and fun, fast, innovative challenges (much like dragons den and apprentice) Why? because people love the responsibility, they enjoy being in control of their destiny (within a given task or role).

I've also done a very similar project with Big issue in the north magazine (The big life group Manchester). They requested a series of concepts which could help develop homeless peoples skills. And through the series of products (made by the homeless vendors) they would learn various employable skills and make money.

Maybe unemployed young people could produce ethical/sustainable products which can be sold on, and also learn employable skills along the way. If you dont know if this can work then check out the entrepreneur Mary Portas. She started a company which employed the unemployed to produce a new lingerie range called 'kinky knickers'.

The bottom line is, they need to be pro-active. They need to get involved in projects, tasks and learn as they go along. This would then give them skills to either become employed or set up their own business.


August 30, 2012, 13:59PM
I like the question you pose, "why are young people unemployed". I see other questions that go beyond 'not having basic skills' or the point about 'schools failing them'. Yes there are structural drivers like continual gutting of education funding and a curriculum that teaches to absorb information rather than show us how to think.

Could the question be just one facet of a whole system that has lead to this one symptom that we are trying to frame?

Katie Chin

February 09, 2013, 16:27PM
I wish I could combine reply to this post and the two below. Will preface that I am a recent (8mo out) college graduate who is fortunate to have a job but have friends without. I feel we live in an era where my generation lacks empowerment. We are creative and knowledge seeking but due to the age of connectedness have an impatience problem which leads to inaction or jadedness. We are used to being satisfied in short bursts of social media posting rather than seeing a project throughout a long-lived time frame. By needing to conform our image to pixel perfection we lack the freedom to fall on our faces in a way that sparks inspiration. The Internet doesn't show the awkward years of learning to be successful. Without this piece of knowledge, some in my generation become jaded and then 'give-up' the innocent, youthful drive we could have. I want to know how we teach pro-activity without adding to the noise. How do I get reflection back into my life with out distraction from twitter and snap chat. Being blindly proactive is the only reason I have a job now. I don't believe that this is a common traight among my peers but is missing in the path to adulthood. I would want to see empowerment through creative responsibility woven into the development of a human. I learned my most valuable skills through niche communities of empowerment. Most of my peers know how to absorb, think, share, but not do with passionate intention. Teach this without it looking like teaching. Spark the flame of skill development without building the fire for me.

om design

May 07, 2013, 22:50PM
Unschooling is trending for a reason. There is enough information to allow children to explore as they are interested to on any topic they are interested in, and in a few years, they will have understanding on a very wide range of topics. The current US educational system (and probably most Western countries) is designed to put out little machines that keep the big machine running. But that machine isn't part of our world anymore except in the most monolithic of governments. Given access to information and allowed to be naturally creative, schoolchildren can literally solve the world's problems. It is the entrenched, scared, special interests that say one solution or another "isn't realistic" while putting huge resources into taking advantage of whole groups of human beings for even more profit. This is a crime and will be forced to change by reality unless the change is embraced. Creativity doesn't even 'need' to be taught. It is a human trait as deep and important as breathing or saying "I love you". Children require access that's all. Adults also need to reevaluate what power structures they support. It is now a global world and there is no excuse pretending that anyone is more important than anyone else.

Kevin Myer

August 06, 2012, 02:21AM
Context is everything. 1+ million 16-24 year olds unemployed in the UK (as a starting place). Many of the comments are jumping well past the Why and the How to the What (Sinek's work). On the other end of the solver comments, the jump to massive cultural change and social media approaches are impractical especially considering the formal, inflexible education systems in place in the UK and especially in the US, where the pathway is set...4 years of college or else. As pointed out by Ms. Myer, there is a huge gap in the U.S....Virginia...Hampton Roads at the ports where 20,000 employees are needed and unavailable due to lack of skills, training, etc. So, can't we start with WHY, then move to increasing levels of detail? What gaps exist in the UK where 16-24 year olds are needed, not classified by current educational level. What areas need jobs, what kinds of skills are needed? What do the "kids" need now...what opportunities would benefit them and society through experience...example...building and developing crumbling infrastructure? The idea is broader than apprenticeship and certainly very different from "success" defined by letters after one's name. Keep it focused, keep it basic and look for the intersections of community need and potential work forces in geographic areas. And even with austerity measures in place and unions whining about older worker job security, wouldn't assurances of living space, access to human services (food, health, social experiences), and the opportunity to learn needed skills now and for the future be attractive to the job hunters and the job creators? We can make this happen.


August 30, 2012, 14:04PM
I agree with this. We need to look at the whole model as opposed to trying to solve a symptom of it! The difficulty with design challenges is that the design process encourages people to generate solutions in order to better understand the problem. However, questioning whether we understand the issue and solving the right problem is another story.

Michael Rogerson

August 04, 2012, 08:27AM
First thoughts are that we need a culture focused on creating value rather than compensating employees for time at work. The main idea is to get away from the clock punching and get into making stuff that improves quality of life (removes pain, increases happiness), is manufacturable and has an infrastructure that is ready for the new innovation.
Also need to get away from the spreadsheets and find ways to measure the intangibles. How does business affect people, environment, governments etc.
While this looks complicated, thats what heuristics are for. Once the process is in place, its easy to sustain.


August 30, 2012, 14:08PM
We'd have to look at reshaping the whole system. If anyone has studied systems thinking approaches, any attempt to change or shock the model will see the same forces at work seek to correct itself again. The workforce-social construct of our lives is an open complex system that is resilient and will calibrate itself. We have to understand the system as a whole before you can change it as well as what lens your using to perceive the system.

Identify the parts, see the causal relationships, understand what emerges. Determine where the reinforcing and balancing feedback loops are. This is how to begin making it sustainable.

Dawnne McGeachy

August 02, 2012, 16:00PM
Brilliant challenge! I am sorry I missed the start ‘inspiration’, I think some of the research my organisation (Skills Development Scotland) has undertaken during the past 4 years would have helped feed some discussion. However, reading through the posts has been brilliant and has really helped fuel some ideas and discussions in the office where I work!

It is an interesting challenge and one that I have been working on in SDS as a service designer. We have extensively explored barriers to employment and education for young people and during this research a number of items came to light, including but not exclusively: motivation/confidence, understanding the job landscape, understanding strengths, preferred channels for service delivery

In response to these SDS have developed a number of on and offline services exploring those and some of the themes of your challenge. We are still early days but I think some of what we have done start to address some of the issues faced by young people entering the world of work and education.

Our web service is please take a look at it. I worked on the young persons strengths tool which has been well received by the target group. Suffice to say we followed the service design process while developing the tool which means this was co-designed, tested and iterated by the user group.

With regard participation in openideo I’d like to focus on the building optimism and motivation, it would be great to get some ideas and feedback from the group on here.

Francisco Casablanca

July 30, 2012, 17:43PM
Focusing in the following statement written in the brief’s “Understating the Context”: “Advancements in digital technologies have also created entirely new industries with career paths previous generations could never have imagined. And social networks give today’s young people unprecedented access to new connections and opportunities.”

I am interested to understand what are the skills the young people already have and how can they be used to rethink the traditional business model or roles. As the previous statement points out “social network give today’s young people unprecedent access to new connections and opportunities.” I see the young generation as one of the biggest content producers of all time. They are constantly producing images, footages, comments, reactions, sharing, managing and remixing them. They are incessantly communicating in their everyday mobility thru every available social network platform, those platforms have become their traditional way of communication, their modus operandi. Even thou the current employers and/or service providers keep the traditional ways of communications with their employers and their clients. Example of the traditional communication between a company and their clients is the always annoying call-centers, you have to go thru a time consuming call within multiple steps and makes everyone feel desperate. How can the industries shift to a platform based in social networks to provide, a more personal costumer services but also to take advantage of the young generation experience in managing it? With this statement I am not suggesting that the young generations doesn’t need to improve their skills to be prepared for the world of work, but I can see that a bottom-up change is being cleverly implied by the young generation.

rakesh arora

July 31, 2012, 09:45AM
I would more than agree with your observation that young are more active on social network, they are new age consumers who are prosumers who are more interested in creating their own experience irrespective of the products and or service additionally there are companies who are still in industrial age where the work is compartmentalize like linework and so you get same dry experience of call centre ( not against anybody )

Dawnne McGeachy

August 03, 2012, 08:09AM
Absolutely agree with you. Co-designing with young people re this has never been more important or illuminating for this very reason. They adopt and use technologies in ways we would never have have thought. They give and rely on reviews before purchasing anything therefore peer reviews has never been more prevalent.

Interestingly, though, from the research we did with young people regarding 'their online space' i.e Facebook etc it became apparent they did not want anything formal coming through that channel (I work in a skills organisation). We are now trying to find out how best to work with them in an environment they feel comfortable without encroaching on their personal territory. Still early days but I am confident by talking and designing with them we will find a great solution.

Carmen Sieverding

July 30, 2012, 11:28AM
I have found additional current literature on the topic. Book summary and review are not just interesting but also attached to the challenge brief. Have a look:

"The Coming Job War - What everyone in the world wants is a good job. In a provocative book for business and government leaders, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton describes how this undeniable fact will affect all leadership decisions as countries wage war to produce the best jobs."


August 30, 2012, 14:27PM
Many people I know have good jobs but feel they are on the treadmill, having to earn good money to pay for overpriced houses they are pressured to buy. Many folk know that if they had a decent place to live, with low costs they wouldn't care too much about the job they had and would do what they really wanted to.

Its like the never ending loop - I buy a $30k car, pay thousands a year in parking and fuel and insurance because there ain't no good public transport. Council doesn't provide as much funding each year because less and less people decide to travel on buses. The less bus services creates incentive to get a car and drive yourself. The more people drive need car parks forcing costs up. People leave home earlier and earlier to get into town, beat the traffic and get that elusive car park space. This slows traffic and people left on buses hate the delays and cramped conditions, dream about getting a car cause at least they might get to where they need to faster. The downward spiral of the moving carpark (used to be a freeway) gives some people the idea they need to live closer and go into more debt to buy an expensive house in a better location. It never ends.

Then we've lost sight of why we are paying unnecessarily the privilege of spending money on propelling 2 tonnes of plastic, rubber and thin steel 60-80km/h to move it from car park to car park where it sits on average 22 hours a day. Oh and when you park it, it costs money again. These are depreciating liabilities that most people never get to fully enjoy in medium to large cities.

Producing the best jobs is not necessarily the goal for bosses - smart capable people, adding desired value greater than the cost to employ them, preferably by several + factors is the goal. It is no wonder why companies go under and we have this state of affairs as mentioned by Gallup because of the system they've generated.

Individuals need to start seeing their worth and being more commercially savvy about the transaction they intend to enter. Otherwise you end up in the other spiral - the career problem of competing with everyone for that next job up the ladder.

Most workers never get it - that your supervisor, your leader, your boss uses you for creating value for them, for the guy above them, for the shareholder etc. But you can work with it and not get caught up in it.

Lluis Ripoll

July 26, 2012, 12:40PM
This is certainly an interesting challenge, which I understand will become bigger if it is not properly addressed as population grows, as population leaves longer, as companies operate cross-country worldwide and as disruptive changes in consumption patterns appear with disruptive proposals.

Lolo Schauer

July 25, 2012, 08:12AM
Coworking spaces... in 5 minutes I share my point of view to help young people (sorry for my english, I am from Argentina)

Jamie Myer

July 20, 2012, 13:38PM
We are putting all students on the bus to go to college. There needs to be another bus that explores career pathways outside of a four year university. Southeast Maritime and Transportation is working on developing a map that clearly defines these pathways. Training teachers and building collaborative networks with industry is bringing about positive results. The Hampton Roads area will have approximately 20,000 jobs opening in the next five to ten years and there are not enough qualified people to fill the positions. After talking to an apprentice recently about how much he hated to read during his school years-and by the way what was the deal with that stupid popcorn reading?? And how hard he had to work to get "caught up" made me realize we need to redefine what what is going on in classes outside the college track. If interested I can send some information on what we are doing if you think it might help.

Minji Kim

July 15, 2012, 15:20PM
This challenge really is something worth brainstorming or at least thinking since this is reality, not only to young people who don't have jobs, but also to an experienced working person as I am.

The idea of 'success' may differ to any body, but I think it implies that the person is quite satisfied to the job state or the job he/she has. According to my experience and what people say, the satisfaction comes from how close the career state is from his/her dreams. In that sense, people should be aware of their dreams and obvious/hidden talents at first hand before getting a job.

To be honest, it hasn't been long since I figured out my dream since I was good at all subjects in high school, an all A student. Well, this isn't a self compliment, rather a pitfall that hid my dreams. I think young students, before getting to college, should be more exposed to a variety of personale who has their own unique professions. In that way, wandering about jobs will be reduced.

Tram Nguyen

July 13, 2012, 21:39PM
I notice that a lot of concepts are based on job searching/matching and higher learning (kudos! I completely support those concepts). When we're starting with the high school age bracket (16-18 yrs), what about them?
I work in the educational sector (K-12) in the Bay Area, California, USA. We're still trying to figure out how to decrease our drop-out rate and have students meet basic math and reading skills. And some of these students who don't even make it to college are still going into the workforce without the basic skills to add without using a calculator.
With the (K-12) US education system as it is (i.e. not one of the top academic performers in world comparison), I'm wondering if larger corporations and companies are looking to outsource and hire outside of the U.S.

Shaina Lurie

July 03, 2012, 17:59PM
What a great challenge!! This topic of education and job success has weighed heavy on my mind throughout my years of education.

I have found myself in one of these educational gaps. I was fortunate enough to attend graduate school and receive my Masters in Emergent Media right after my obtaining my undergraduate degree. I chose higher education over full-time employment and yet my degrees are not enough. I am one of the many 23 years olds who is unemployed and living at home. I take pride in my efforts to enhance my knowledge about new media. But, I question the values of education vs. work experience. How can both be nourished and rewarded?

Our educational systems pressure students to obtain diplomas. But, what they don't teach is how to develop your network, utilize new media and strengthen your digital footprint. What they don't teach is how to build a strong portfolio and/or website in your field of study. And they most certainly do not teach students what it will take TODAY to secure full-time employment.

It is companies like IDEO who encourage innovation and participation that will hopefully help reshape this system. Thanks to open forums our youth are learning to voice their opinions. How can this be rewarded, valued and utilized towards the connectivity of education and job success? How should our digital landscape encourage students to be active participants in their own success? I would love to help build this bridge of student leaders, community activists and mentors.

I have a lot more ideas on this topic! I am very excited to be a participant. Thank you : )

rakesh arora

July 05, 2012, 06:30AM
I think you have raised very relevant points, there is a huge gap between theory and application in terms of present and future.
The solution I think is that all the students should be exposed to the real world of business/commerce in the first 6 months in relevant field and then the courses should be carried out with follow-up on-job training a fixed interval.
This will make the student aware of the changing environment of business and relate it to theory.
This will require change in all the 3 value creator in education ie government, education institutes and business.

Jamie Myer

July 20, 2012, 13:43PM
Shanina-how could we use Emergent Media more effectively in education? It might not be the area you want to spend your life, but I bet you could carve a niche for yourself in this area and help digital immigrants like me move in a more positive direction toward integrating Emergent Media into the education and learning process. Just a thought.

Danielle Mascioli

June 27, 2012, 14:33PM
Colleges and Universities need to take more of an initiative to help their alumni get jobs. Online job boards and resume workshops are not really enough to satisfy the need. Mandatory classes focusing on how to get a job, build a portfolio, and assistance with networking within your field prior to graduation would be valuable lessons for any student. Government funding for higher education has been cut significantly, and it seems a government initiative helping to fund staff that can act as hands on head hunters for students would greatly help prepare students for the challenges ahead.

Of course getting a job post graduation is not the ONLY reason to attend college, it also broadens the mind and acts as a buffer between childhood and adulthood. However colleges and universities need to focus on students lives after they leave.

Meena Kadri

July 01, 2012, 23:34PM
Looking forward to hearing more about your ideas over on our Concepting phase:

rakesh arora

June 27, 2012, 07:00AM
I think we have to look at type of education : basic and application. We can also take ecosystem approach to both which can result in individual can get gainful employment and live life as per his/her wishes. If we look at the needs of business,it needs employees to be productive and motivated additionally the jobs done to be fulfilling for employees meaning the job and employee be aligned and lastly society needs the people be contributing to growth and prosperity. If we focus on all the 3 partners in ecosystem we can move in common direction.

Meena Kadri

July 01, 2012, 23:34PM
Looking forward to hearing more about your ideas over on our Concepting phase:

Isabel Perdomo

June 26, 2012, 17:06PM
This is something that needs to be solved at a global level.
First of all, companies/corporations need to create programs in which young people are invited. This would inspire them to get educated and have hope. If every corporation provided various sort of internships for young people, these youth would see what education can give them while also acquiring skills.
Designers can volunteer by giving a couple of hours a week at high schools where they can teach basics of design. That way more youth can also be inspired by the power of design.

rakesh arora

June 26, 2012, 05:45AM
Firstly we should make career counselling a must in every primary and higher level of schools. If the students want to join work-force early after 10+2 then there can be techinical institutes which provide relevant training of industries around the region. The onus of this programme has to be jointly owned by the school, the industries and facilited by government or NGO. This programme could be run for around 6 months and can include soft skills and knowledge skill required for the required profile.

Meena Kadri

July 01, 2012, 23:34PM
Looking forward to hearing more about your ideas over on our Concepting phase:

Caterina Canale-Mayet Cabezón

June 25, 2012, 19:28PM
take a look at
is an excellent platform to develop leadership and soft skills

rakesh arora

June 25, 2012, 06:41AM
I would like to add additional chanllenge. Principally there are 2 types of employment. 1. Self-employed and 2. working class or employees. Now you can add age group and study-levels combined with social status of the youngsters and their parents.

Paul Reader

June 25, 2012, 07:26AM
Welcome Rakesh - as you point out there are many determinants of employment.
You have the chance to contribute more of your thoughts now either as ideas of your own by proposing concepts or joining some of the many conversations on concepts proposed by others.
Hope to see you sharing your thoughts in the concepting phase.

Caroline McLaren

June 23, 2012, 19:38PM
Ken Robinson on "Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career"

Eduardo Pucu

June 21, 2012, 14:23PM a good video about work these days, and how the millenium generation is dealing with it.
On the other side of the coin,

another point of view, not so optimistic about it.


June 18, 2012, 02:17AM
The most intriguing part to me of this challenge is how well we will be able to design solutions that prepare those who otherwise have the least access to resources to connect them to future gainful employment. Access to mentors and to internships, for example, are so much more available to those from more affluent, well-connected families, those who attended fine universities, and those who can afford to accept unpaid internships.

Caroline Vallières

June 20, 2012, 14:34PM
I agree, seems like there is a "catch-22". Of course there are resources that exist to assist those who are not as wealthy. A strategy to create more accessibility and transparency to these resources should be put in place. I believe an education in empowerment should also be prioritized as it is easy to get caught up in a winding destructive pattern if one seems to have no other route. A return to community and local culture can create sustainability for those starting out, with mentors for example. Also, meaningful employment can come from within, we should teach youth to create their own future, not have it dictated by external situations.

Bernie Emery

June 15, 2012, 14:06PM
Really like the brief and think it's an incredibly important problem to solve. However what about those young people that have the skills and would like to work but are unable to access the workplace? There are young people out there who, due to their medical condition, disability or caring responsibilities are effectively housebound. Whilst they will experience the same issues as everybody else, they will also experience additional barriers to work. How can we ensure that they can secure meaningful employment?

Ashley Jablow

June 15, 2012, 17:48PM
Hi Bernie, great questions. While exclusion from the workplace due to illness or disability is not an explicit focus for this challenge, I do think it's an important part of our conversation. My best tip would be to add an inspiration (only a few days left to do so!) and raise these questions for the community to think about as a provocation and thought starter. Thanks for joining us here.

Nate Lewis

June 12, 2012, 15:24PM
I was just talking to my sister, herself a recent college graduate struggling to find meaningful employment. I believe this challenge is perhaps the world's most important given it is not clear what, if any, "creative" employment will rise out of our current destruction cycle.

Megan Moynahan

June 10, 2012, 18:10PM
Excellent and thought-provoking challenge. So many young people are in the wings waiting to enter the workforce. They do have the skills in most cases, just not the opportunities. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. Looking forward to reading more entries and commenting.


November 07, 2013, 04:31AM
I think governments can break the cycle. pressure from media or society cannot do anything.

Andrew Li

June 09, 2012, 03:23AM
A much needed challenge. The solutions would not only lift up individual young persons, but also close the gaps in the communities that arise from unemployment of young people (e.g. generational disconnect, haves vs. have nots, highly taxed vs. living off welfare).

Cyril Lebel

June 05, 2012, 08:26AM
Fantastic and much needed challenge! Looking forward to follow up and contribute as much as I can.
I can't help but wonder what "succeed in the world of work" really means though... Does it imply that this world is fine the way it is and doesn't need any fixing? What is more broken? The education system bringing up young people unfit for the work world... or could the work world be needing serious innovation?

I really love the way the challenge focuses on how to equip with the right "skills" and "informations" but also the "opportunities". It leaves the door open to innovation on both sides of the equation.

Ashley Jablow

June 15, 2012, 17:52PM
Nice questions Cyril, and you're right: what success means is not always cut and dry. In the remaining days of the Inspiration phase, maybe you'll consider adding inspirations that show what success in the world of work means to you?

Paul Reader

June 17, 2012, 11:04AM
Great questions Cyril.
If the education system appears to be failing youth - how far down the system do we need to look at reforming?
Are we failing to supply sufficient educational opportunity?
Do employers have a sufficient grasp of their needs in the near future to guide educational input?
Can we make education systems more flexible and responsive to changing employment needs?

Marcela Arango

June 19, 2012, 20:59PM
I like Cyril's questions and I think one key element in the educational system is to invite society to work together in the social innovations we need to re-define success and create the values that education should give to young leaders to work towards that new kind of success

samar singh

June 03, 2012, 04:10AM
The experience of my team has been that the failures of the tertiary education process may have their genesis in our schools. Broadly speaking we find that there are two principal problems. The first is that education in our schools is of limited value either in the workplace or in tertiary education. The second is that while change will be the only constant in our children's future, our schools do not prepare children for this accelerating pace of change.
Our work with schools has shown that three fundamental changes are needed. The first is the development of inferential ability i.e. the capacity to apply knowledge to new circumstances. The second is the opportunity to cultivate decision making ability and the third is the opportunity to develop participative decision making skills.

There needs to be a fundamental change from competition to collaboration. However, historically the assessment process has acted as a filter for higher education, and that thinking underpins our school curricula and our system of measurement which of course defines what is taught and how it is taught.

There are no winners in our educational ecosystem but every stakeholder is a loser in the short or the long term. It is the ecosystem we need to change. I believe initiatives such as this Challenge may drive that change.

Robert Suarez

June 03, 2012, 07:05AM
I also see a significant shift in the original promise of education and the current ability to deliver on that promise. Schools are still built on a promos of preparing students for meaningful employment. Those opportunities are no longer a given and the education system needs to adjust accordingly. I do believe there are great opportunities to re-invent the way people learn about things they are (1) passionate about and (2) align with relevant work opportunities. We should also look to re-define what we mean when we say 'work'.

Alison Morris

June 03, 2012, 03:42AM
This is a very interesting challenge, especially because its subject is my generation. There's a great piece in GOOD this month about our age group and our emotional interactions with service jobs post-university. It seems to me that the disparity lies somewhere between skill set, available jobs and expected success immediately following graduation -- tricky, to say the least. Now how to solve it...

Martin Kamenski

May 31, 2012, 03:19AM
This is an inspiring challenge. And I look forward to our creative and innovative community to come together in support of youth around the world. I remember the powerful image on the cover of Businessweek back in February when they highlighted the struggles and resulting dangers of the youth unemployment crisis ( Let's tackle this one!

Louis Coiffait

May 30, 2012, 23:18PM
Unemployed young people today seem to be facing a perfect storm; double-dip recession, plan A(usterity) and a massive reduction in careers services.

My two big ideas are about linking the worlds of education and work better, and making sure young people get the guidance they need as they progress through an increasingly complex landscape of different progression routes. Every learner should have a supportive network of engaged, knowledgeable and well-connected adults helping them.


Shana Crews

May 30, 2012, 17:21PM
It does come down to skills, and sometimes it can be a skill you may not have attended college to acquire. In this current economy, many people are looking for employment and it may come down to the reason I joined OpenIDEO, Entrepreneurship.

You don't have to necessarily earn a large amount of money, but just by starting something yourself and making enough money to get by can be the difference between riding the wave until a better job comes along and getting depressed about not being able to find employment. I know job searching can be an exhausting task, and as a friend said, "Finding a job is a job."

Ashley Jablow

May 30, 2012, 17:40PM
Great insights Shana - glad to have you onboard for this challenge!

Benjamin Vann

May 31, 2012, 08:08AM
Okay, then lets do it..!

Karina McElroy

May 30, 2012, 09:46AM
Fantastic challenge OpenIDEO! Looking forward to joining the conservation!

Ashley Jablow

May 30, 2012, 17:41PM
We're happy you're joining in Karina! Be sure to swing by the Inspiration phase to chime in with your stories and examples.
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