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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

This challenge is now over.
352 contributions
148 ideas
148 final ideas
20 final ideas
20 final ideas