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Youth Employment Challenge Community Ambassador Update #1

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Shane Zhao is our current volunteer Challenge Community Ambassador. You'll see him popping up across the Youth Employment Challenge with handy tips and words of encouragement – and posting community updates here like a true champion!

Greetings and welcome! Less than week into the Youth Employment Challenge, we have already amassed a phenomenal collection of research contributions that are both broad in scope and rich with insight. During the early stages of researching a complex issue it often helps to expand our understanding of what’s possible. So for this blog post, I've decided to explore a handful of contributions that give diverse insights into the challenge.

Explore Widely and Wildly

We can learn a lot about design research from Malcolm Gladwell. As a popular author, Gladwell has been recognized for changing how we look at human behavior in very counterintuitive and unexpected ways. Beginning from a pool of seemingly unrelated research themes, Gladwell has been known to reveal topics in a different light by making insightful connections between his wide findings.

Taking cues from Gladwell, it often helps to look outside the immediate problem and explore themes from a wide spectrum of areas when approaching a tough challenge. Often times, innovative ideas and insights from other disciplines and fields of study can become the breakthrough piece that we need. I've identified some research entries here that have explored the challenge in ways that are both wide and wild: 

Could toys be used - Daniel shared with us his thoughts on how female scientist figurines from the new 'Research Institute' Lego set can create aspirational role models for young people.

Get miffed! - Wilma has been encouraging her students to explore how great business ideas in the fields of film, cobblery, and fashion have been born out of anger and necessity.

Homeboy Industries - Tim shared with us how gang-intervention programs have formed successful support communities for young people to reenter the workforce.

A game that helps read problems - Priyanka shared with us CareerGames and how gamification can be used to help people build skills for employment.

Flipping the Question - Ashwin presented provocative thoughts on how we can switch a monetary-based employment system into a value centric model.

Examine Different Contexts

My approach to design research dramatically shifted when I saw Charles and Ray Eames' Powers of 10. By framing a simple view of a man in increasingly larger and smaller contexts, the film was a groundbreaking piece of storytelling that changed how people understood their relationship to the world. In many ways, Powers of 10 is a lesson that encourages us to think outside the box (quite literally)!

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When applied to the Youth Employment Challenge, the Powers of 10 teaches us that we should not look at a problem in isolation from its contexts. Instead, we should examine this challenge from multiple levels and points of view. On a macro level, we can better understand the issues of youth employment relative to the contexts of different community groups, local needs, regional economics, and entire cultures. We can also learn a lot by examining the less obvious personal perspectives of young people and employers on a more intimate level. Below are some research entries that have examined the Youth Employment Challenge in different contexts:

Generation Z - Claudia shared with us a great piece on how the unique values of Gen Zers might fit within the context of a job market that is run by employers from past generations.

Follow your path - On a more intimate level, Danny shared with us his own perspective on the difficulties of finding a job that fits within the context of his entrepreneurial spirit and lifestyle.

"Youth" are not all the same - Tom presented the importance of "one size does not fit all," a stratified approach to address the unique needs of youths during different stages of their development.

Seeking opportunities within one's own context - Randah shared the story of how Gaza’s first female photojournalist turned the atrocities of war from her youth into a brighter future.

Rolling the dice in South Africa - Simon revealed some compelling statistics about the rate of unemployment in South Africa and how young people are rolling dice against a larger system.


These highlights are only a glimpse into the phenomenal research that our OpenIDEO community has contributed so far! What are some examples you've seen of examining things through a new lens - whether within the OpenIDEO community or beyond? I am inspired by the diversity of ideas and am excited to learn about the contributions that have inspired you thus far.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Japhet Aloyce Kalegeya

Hi.Shane thank you for your posts, I think that collaboration is a basic in our community, also innovations come from collaboration. So I would like to thanked you for your good ideas and collaboration. I am looking forward to collaborate with you.

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