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Janet Longmore Headshot

What Youth Want -- Experiential Learning, Social Learning

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The global youth unemployment crisis will not be solved by doing more of the same.

The formal education system is not meeting current workforce demands and this leads to a critical skills mismatch between the young job-seeker and the modern employer. With over 75 million youth unemployed worldwide, this mismatch has created a tremendous waste of the energy, passion and talent of young women and men.

The absence of 21st century workforce skills development underlies the disconnect between formal education systems and the needs of employers -- skills like communications, critical thinking, action research, project management, facilitation and working in teams -- and the self-empowerment that gives youth the confidence to apply these skills.

The conventional classroom is not where these skills are honed. Nor is the Internet, the environment of choice for today's youth, with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the new social behaviours that they spawn.

We must take a hybrid approach -- we must be courageous and construct a new experiential and social learning environment. This will involve internships, face-to-face and online learning, learner-driven learning paths, peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring, transferable credits, a culture of continuous inquisitiveness and a blend of social entrepreneurship. It is technology that will underpin and integrate an accessible, effective and blended environment where no one is left out.

The continuum moves from "I know" (learning, training) to "I can" (apprenticeships, field experience, coaching) to "I will" (personal empowerment, self-confidence, self-reliance, responsibility).

It's what youth want.