Youth, Skills, & the Workforce of the Future

SKILLS4YOUTH: A Work Readiness App

By Education Development Center, Inc.

Location

United States

Team Leader

Robin DePietro-Jurand

Our solution:

Our solution will give disadvantaged youth access to work-readiness skills through an interactive app using a globally-tested curriculum. This app and our youth-centered approach engaging youth as testers, users, and developers of work-readiness app-based content, will prepare youth for today’s workforce.

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Our pitch:

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The problem:

20-year old Maria juggles competing responsibilities, working 2 shifts at the local market and raising her 2-year old. She did not finish school but wants to increase her earnings. Maria’s situation is not unique. Disadvantaged youth, with limited education and living in precarious conditions, have few opportunities to learn and access training. With the global youth population growing, youth-supporting systems cannot serve everyone. The problem is two-fold: youth lack the skills needed in today’s economy, and systems fall short, leading to stagnation and violence. Our two-fold solution will address youth skills with a work-readiness-skills-training app, then scale to support systems.  

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Why our solution will solve the problem:

EDC works to develop youth workforce skills in challenging contexts. Our work readiness curriculum (Work Ready Now! – WRN!) has been implemented in over 26 countries.  A randomized control trial of our program’s impact in Rwanda found that youth who took EDC's WRN training improved their understanding of work readiness skills and found employment far more than did youth who did not participate in training (http://idd.edc.org/sites/idd.edc.org/files/RCT%20Report.pdf). By digitizing WRN! content for an interactive app, we seek to reduce access barriers to youth like Maria to gain 21st Century skills, attitudes, and behavior to better navigate today’s economy.

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Our solution's stage of development:

Pilot

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Target Outcomes

Our target outcomes:

Our solution will impact up to 900 youth, providing them access to self-paced work-readiness training. We will pilot our app through our existing projects, with disadvantaged youth ages 15 – 30 in urban/peri-urban areas of the Philippines, Ghana, and Bolivia. Piloting it across continents will allow us to make it more accessible and relevant to youth.  The pilot will focus on skills development, investigating whether our app leads to youth improvements in work-readiness.  Once we scale the app, we will investigate other outcomes, such as impacts on entrepreneurial activity or whether our app leads to better employment outcomes for youth.

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How we will measure our progress:

  • Outcome: Number of Youth with Access to the App (Rationale: For the app to be effective, youth need to access it. We will track the number of youth who access these materials with the app.)
    Measurement Plan: Calculation: Count the number of youth who register and create a log-in for the app. Tools: Back-end analytics captured by the app’s system.
  • Outcome: Percent of Youth Who Engage At Depth with App Content (Rationale: Some youth may engage with app content at greater depth than others, which could affect how work-ready they become. We will measure depth of engagement.)
    Measurement Plan: Calculation: The number of youth who engage at depth (frequency of log-ins, completion of training) divided by the number of youth who access the app. Tools: Back-end analytics captured by the app’s system.
  • Outcome: Percent of Youth who Improve their Work Readiness (Rationale: Given the new electronic mode of delivery of this content, we will examine if completers improve their work readiness.)
    Measurement Plan: Calculation: The number of youth who improve their work readiness divided by the number of youth who complete this training using the app. Tools: EDC’s Credential Test delivered at baseline and endline to app-registered youth.
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The populations we will benefit initially:

  • Child
  • Adolescent
  • Low-income economies (< $1005 GNI)
  • Secondary
  • Urban
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The regions we will benefit initially:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • East Asia and Pacific
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
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The countries we will benefit initially:

  • Bolivia
  • Ghana
  • Philippines
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Technology

The technologies we employ:

  • Consumer-facing software (mobile applications, cloud services)
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Why our solution is unique:

Our solution reinforces work-readiness skills—such as goal-setting and problem solving—with these unique elements:

  • Youth-relevant content: To complement WRN!-based digitized content, youth will be invited to compete, using a build-your-own-app-content feature to create new content representing work-related challenges that youth face.
  • Opportunity to co-develop and co-brand app-based content: Competition winners will work with experts in instructional design and technology to finalize their content to form part of open-source WRN!-based app.
  • Workforce interactions: With the app’s interactive and applied-learning methodology, youth will observe and engage with local businesses and entrepreneurs (potential employers) while practicing work-readiness skills.
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Why our solution is human-centered:

EDC’s youth programs always start from youth-centered design.  Youth and other stakeholders are part of our curriculum design process from day 1, and we actively revise our content based on youth inputs.  For our app-based solution, we propose a professional-based youth-centered approach, where youth are critical stakeholders (during the pilot and the final competition) and active creators and users of instructional content.  We will engage youth from the beginning by: assessing their technology skills, using their input as testers and users, having them identify challenges youth face in the workplace to inform content, and promoting them as developers and designers.

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How people will access our solution:

During the pilot, the proposed app-based training will be made accessible to target youth through EDC’s current projects in each of the 3 countries.  Our solution will be distributed through free downloads on personal devices or through computers located in computer centers or schools supported by our existing projects. We will minimize access barriers related to cost and connectivity by providing an app that can run offline and is accessible for free in the app store.  Once we scale the solution, the app will be available for wider distribution, for example, by institutions preparing and supporting youth for work life.

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Technology-Readiness Level:

1-3 (Formulation)
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Our website

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Business Plan

Our organization:

Non-Profit

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Where we are located:

United States
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How we will sustain our team financially:

EDC designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Our proposed two-year solution is rooted in EDC’s positive track record in curriculum design and international work. When founded in 1958, EDC’s flagship project was an innovative hands-on physics curriculum for US high-schools. Over time, we grew internationally and continued innovating by integrating technology into education, including interactive-radio-instruction (IRI), online and app-based learning.

As to sustainability and growth, EDC has curriculum/resources on entrepreneurship, work-based learning, local-partner capacity-building, and other technical areas. This wide range of resources, existing expertise and presence in 22 countries, will allow us to expand our app’s instructional content geographically and into other technical areas and add new features to it. The app will be downloadable for free and will form part of EDC’s portfolio for expansion through current and future youth projects.

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The factors limiting our success:

Technology evolves quickly, so future use of this app is dependent on the evolution of technology, devices and operating systems widely available to youth. To be responsive to current technology trends and youth’s uptake, we will initially target our app to the most commonly used devices (Android phones) among youth in the 3 countries proposed. 

Connectivity presents a challenge to any downloadable solution or tool. We are minimizing barriers based on connectivity and cost by developing an app that relies on data only to download and upload, but otherwise runs completely offline – a critical feature in developing contexts.

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How long we have been working on our solution:

1 year
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How long it will take to develop a pilot:

6-12 months
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How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:

18+ months
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Our expected annual budget:

$1332922

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How much of our budget we've secured to date:

$954741

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Our annual report

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Our promotional materials:

http://www.edc.org/

https://www.facebook.com/edc.worldwide/

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