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Maximize young peoples' professional development through skill-building remote opportunities

Young people are being particularly hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with many losing opportunities for summer and post-graduate employment

Photo of Grace Wickerson
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We need further professional opportunities for young people who are being displaced from their summer opportunities or work in industries that are the hardest hit by COVID-19. There is a risk to lose a generation of talented young people because of the market crash. If we seek to rebuild, young people must have opportunities made available to them.

What is the need are you focusing on?

Workforce development of young people who have had their opportunities interrupted by COVID-19

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

This service would be part-time or short-term freelancing opportunities for young people who have had their professional lives interrupted because of COVID-19. These young people can get tasks that develop their professional skills and build out their portfolio of work. Such action will ensure young people's talents are maximized during this crisis and will benefit businesses suffering from financial losses who are in need of talent.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Maybe-with additional support

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

I believe we can see young people maximized during this crisis, as many of them are out of work. Such action will ensure we have another generation prepped with the necessary skills and awareness to address the many problems further exacerbated by COVID-19, and work to build a better economy post-crisis. It will particularly help young people without financial safety nets to fall back on and who cannot just stop working. There are millions of young people ages 16-24 who are in these most at-risk industries, and thus will benefit from this intervention. For timeline: with a few initial partners, we could begin starting short-term or part-time projects for young people at both for-profits, non-profits, and governmental agencies to share their talents. If this was done in a few of the largest US cities, we could see a significant number of currently out of work young people put to work addressing emerging problems faced by businesses during COVID-19

What is the name of your business or organization?


What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?


What is your profession?

PhD Candidate, Northwestern University

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Academia/Research
  • Designer(UX/CX/Design Research)
  • Education
  • Student

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

I have networks of young people that I could tap into to share opportunities, I would need businesses, governmental agencies, and non-profits who are willing to ideate short-term projects that could be taken on by these young people. As a starting prototype, these could be unpaid opportunities just to show the viability, but we should move to pay given the economic precarity of some young people.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

Lack of networks to tap into, team members who would be interested in pursuing this project with me, and funding to keep me going in working on this project.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

I have been involved in the Emergency Design Collective thus far.

Website URL


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Hi Grace Wickerson  Thank you for posting your idea. It seems so much discussion on education right now centers on in-home teaching for the much younger students. While that segment is critical right now, you bring up a very good point on COVID19 impacting older students' also at a critical time in their development. With all upper level students experiencing this problem, do you think your program could be designed for replication, or even in cooperation with, other universities? With local, regional or national collaborations and partnerships more students might be benefited more quickly? On the project-generation side, including already established business labor and market resources as partners could match the student scaling effect (I.e. professional associations...for advertisers, project managers, manufacturers, translators, etc). You might not want to take on a wider dissemination, but do you think your project could also be designed for adaptation in other regions?

Photo of Grace Wickerson

Susan Jackewicz Thank you for commenting on my call to action! I agree, especially because Universities can very easily generate these opportunities for students or tap into local networks (Alumni, Non-Profit Partners, Governmental Partners, Business Partners) to generate these short-term opportunities that keep people engaged. Truly, I think all that needs to be captured is defined-problem areas that can become project briefs for young people and people will come to solve them (as I have seen - students are jumping on any opportunity right now to contribute). I think those partnerships are critical for collecting opportunities, especially those local ones who can create opportunities that are accessible to people in local communities. I am happy to share this idea with others as someone very close to the target population, I do think this can be easily adapted and shared and I've begun working with the City of Houston to implement it here.