Countries worldwide are struggling to adapt to unstable economic environments and a global marketplace that increasingly relies on innovation in science and technology. In this rapidly changing context, governments need a skilled workforce that provides the human capital necessary to prosper in a modern economy. Furthermore, the more than one billion young people in developing countries are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Education systems are failing them, leaving millions to drop out before acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills. Those who continue on to higher education often graduate without the requisite skills to meet the needs of the labor market. The situation is further exacerbated in fragile states where rising youth unemployment threatens to destabilize efforts to create vibrant and healthy democracies. World Learning supports governments in tackling the youth employment gap through interventions in both higher education and general workforce development. Our programs focus on developing young people's technical, soft skills, and English language skills so they can find employment, provide for themselves and their families, and become more engaged members of society. Our programs strengthen traditional higher education structures while encouraging the private sector to play a larger role in shaping education programming.
In Algeria, World Learning works with universities, technical and vocational schools to align curriculum with private sector needs and introduce flexible methods of course delivery. World Learning also develops career centers that provide students with practical skills training, access to internships, and career counseling. Our model, emphasizing the interface between education institutions, the private sector, and civil society, is also being implemented through a career center network at three universities in Egypt. In El Salvador, World Learning is conducting needs assessments based on participatory Human Institutional Capacity Development (HICD) to study organizational assets and priority improvement needs of seven El Salvadoran higher education institutions. In addition, World Learning will also implement strategies to strengthen the capacity of the faculty in upgrading English language content of industry-linked programs to international standards and pilot Career Centers at the seven partner education institutions. In addition, World Learning works with at-risk populations, who are often denied access to skills training and other opportunities. World Learning has partnered with Cisco in Mexico, Myanmar, and Pakistan to provide training opportunities in entrepreneurship and technology for youth that face barriers accessing quality employment due to conflict or instability. World Learning’s Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement Program in Nigeria is currently working with local organizations in Jos and Kano to build their capacities to implement engaging programs that will promote positive youth development and help youth become more resistant to the pull of violent extremism. A key factor in the success of the program will be the capacity development of its implementers and both its youth and adult facilitators.
World Learning also actively works with private sector companies to support their needs for a healthy, safe, and productive workplace. In Ethiopia, World Learning implements the USAID/PEPFAR funded MULU Worksite Project. This project supports the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to reduce the number of new HIV infections by strengthening HIV prevention initiatives in 100 large-scale workplaces through an evidence-based approach. Workers in remote, high volume workplaces are highly vulnerable to HIV because they are often migrants who are separated from their families, isolated from larger society, and socially dependent on peer groups and activities which expose them to high risk sexual practices. Due to illness associated with HIV, employers face the burden of high absenteeism, frequent staff turnover, and increased operational costs. This five-year project will achieve the following intermediate results: 1) HIV preventive behaviors including health seeking behaviors improved within and around large-scale workplaces; 2) Availability and accessibility of quality reproductive health and HIV prevention services and commodities increased among populations within and around large-scale workplaces, 3) The role and capacity of public and private large-scale workplaces improved to support HIV prevention and reproductive health initiatives in large-scale workplaces.