By: Stephanie Buck | Program Coordinator at Aspen Institute | November 16th, 2015

When employers support enterprises that improve education outcomes, they deliver success for both their own business and for young people. (Image Credit: ANDE / Andela)

by Stephanie E. Buck and Nish Pangali

In some ways, the outlook for your average young person in today’s world is better than ever. An unprecedented number of young people around the world are enrolled in some form of schooling, child and maternal mortality rates are plummeting, and people are generally living longer.

Yet as many as 75 million young people are finding that increased educational opportunities are not necessarily leading to steady employment. This is a problem not only for youth but also for employers: nearly 40 percent of employers cite lack of skills as a top reason for entry-level vacancies going unfilled for months.

As some Shared Value Initiative followers know, companies create shared value in education when they address unmet educational needs as they generate economic benefits for their businesses. They can reconceive products and markets, increase productivity in the value chain, and strengthen the regional clusters where they operate. Education is also an area where entrepreneurs are offering new solutions to improve education and training programs around the world.  

A few months ago, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), with the support of SAP SE, set out to uncover how these education-focused entrepreneurs are making a difference and the challenges they face along the way. A series of global roundtables on this subject helped shine a light on the amazing opportunities that exist for these entrepreneurs. They also identified how employers can actively support enterprises and improve education-to-employment outcomes that create wins for employers–and for young people. The complete findings are detailed in a new report: Education for the 22nd Century.

The most important thing corporations looking to hire next-generation employees can do is to build partnerships with education providers and the entrepreneurs who are trying to help bridge the education-to-employment divide. Whether you increase the amount of internships, apprenticeships, or take a leap into the world of education yourself, voicing your needs can go a long way. For example, through its Skills for Africa program, SAP SE has created scholarship and dual-study programs, as well as alliances with local universities, to address the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills gap, boost local talent, and provide job opportunities for young graduates so that countries like Kenya can become ICT hubs.

Employers can also work hand-in-hand with organizations that train students and connect them to the job market through internships. These enterprises play an important intermediary role and can help tailor instruction towards employers’ needs. Corporations can choose to take advantage of the expertise that education-focused entrepreneurs have with technology, curricula, and more, to develop new training programs, expand old ones, or create digital platforms to reach more people.

And if you are not a corporation or corporate foundation, but you want to learn how you can help as an education provider, foundation, investor, or entrepreneurial support organization, don’t worry, there’s something in this report for you too. To find out how you can take part, check out Education for the 22nd Century: How entrepreneurs can help bridge the education-to-employment divide


Stephanie Buck supports the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneur’s (ANDE) strategic development and communications efforts. She is passionate about helping organizations and people tell their stories better, especially when it comes to development entrepreneurship. Before joining ANDE, she spent three years supporting program management and communications for a variety of civil society and entrepreneurship projects focused on Latin America. Stephanie has an MSc in International Development from the London School of Economics and a BA in Spanish and Political Science from Texas Christian University. 

Nish Pangali is a global director in SAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility organization. In this capacity, her focus is on driving innovation through accelerating the impact of social enterprises and NGO’s. Nish started her career in the non-profit sector, consulting on education reform initiatives. After returning to school to receive her M.B.A, she continued developing her business and leadership skills at several bay area companies including SAP, before transitioning to the CSR organization. She has presented at several conferences and featured blogs on the SCN community. @nishpangali #sapcsr


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