OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

In the wake of a global economic crisis, rising youth unemployment has reached critical levels that demand our urgent attention. A startling number of 16 to 24 year-olds are facing unemployment, part-time employment or insecure, low-wage jobs. This situation increases instability and cripples economic growth as it limits young people’s capacity to contribute to the economy and society. The Clinton Global Initiative – an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation – and OpenIDEO are asking the global community to help design solutions to improve opportunities and pathways to employment that will unleash young people’s potential around the world.


Working with Youth: Addressing the Youth Employment Challenge. May, 2012. Geneva: International Labour Organization.

ILO. Global Employment Trends for Youth.

ILO. Global Employment Trends for Youth.

ILO. Global Employment Trends for Youth.
536 million are vulnerably employed in the developing world – working in the informal sector, with no benefits, rights and low wages – while 1.5 million of youth in the developed world are in temporary contracts.  
ILO. Global Employment Trends for Youth.
Currently the Middle East and North Africa are amongst the regions with highest youth unemployment, where one in every four young person is unemployed. In the US, nearly six million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school and out of work, and the youth unemployment challenge could cost the U.S. roughly $20 billion in lost wages alone over the next decade.
World Bank. Global Agenda Council – Youth Unemployment visualization 2013. .


When thinking about solutions to this challenge, it’s important to consider the different factors that contribute to this problem. Here are a few opportunity areas for improvement:

  • Understanding the different faces of unemployment. Some young people might be out of work and have little education or training, while others may have graduated college or completed secondary education. Some youth are currently working in the informal sector and need to transition into less vulnerable jobs. How might we create different pathways to employment that take into account these different needs?
  • Training and learning the right skills for success.  Young people need skills and experience relevant for 21st century jobs.  Even those who have gone through traditional education may lack skills relevant to employers such as critical problem solving.  How might we engage schools, employers, NGOs and governments to train youth with the right skills to meet job market demands, while continuing to encourage creativity and flexibility in education systems?
  • Fostering young people's unique talents. From their innovative use of technology that creates new products to their creative curiosity that welcomes new challenges, young people around the world are rewriting the workforce and altering traditional pathways to employment. However, it proves to be challenging for young people to acquire resources, such as loans and business licenses, to launch their initiatives. How might we promote entrepreneurship and other alternative employment pathways for young people?
  • Investing in and valuing young people’s potential. Employers report challenges with hiring young people. But investments in training and skills development to support youth's long-term success can prove to be profitable down the line.  How might we connect employers, educators, NGO’s and policy makers to realize and cultivate the potential of young employees?
  • Bridging the information gap. Young people, especially those from low-income backgrounds, lack networks and connections that are traditionally the major sources of access to job opportunities. How might we improve recruitment efforts, networks, and pathways to connect youth to the right employment opportunities?

Together we can make a difference
This crisis affects our global community, undermines the health of society and robs us all of young people’s tremendous capacity to innovate and contribute to economic development. Cooperation amongst employers, educators, policy makers and young people is needed to harness the energy, talent and creativity of new generations. We hope you'll join our global conversation and efforts to create real solutions to unlock the potential of young people around the world.




Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates – and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 2,800 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $103 billion. Responding to the strong interest of CGI members on youth employment issues in the United States, former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton announced at the 2014 CGI America meeting that CGI is launching a CGI Action Network on U.S. Youth Employment to mobilize CGI members to identify proactive solutions to this important challenge.


Finding collaborators, learning from others and strengthening ideas through the insights of others are all a rewarding part of participating in the Youth Employment Challenge – regardless of whether your idea wins. A handful of winning ideas will be highlighted and one participant will be selected to attend CGI's 10th Annual Meeting in September 2014, where their idea will be recognized.
In particular, we are interested in ideas that focus on improving employment opportunities and pathways to help young people succeed in the 21st century economy. We are looking for new, specific and measurable ideas or creative ways to build upon and expand proven solutions.  As the challenge unfolds, we will share more about these goals so you know where we’re headed.
Ultimately, this challenge is about the difference we can all make. We encourage everyone to take forward any idea and collaborate in creating impact in communities around the world. On OpenIDEO, we strive to be a place where good ideas gain momentum – both from the community and from our sponsors and partners. For more information, visit our About Us or How It Works pages. 

OpenIDEO Cross-Pollinator


Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Impact phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
275 contributions
176 ideas
176 final ideas
22 final ideas
22 final ideas
606 days remaining Participate