Implementing Solutions

Youth, Skills, & the Workforce of the Future

How can disadvantaged youth learn the skills they need to prepare them for the workforce of the future and thrive in the 21st century?

Submissions are Closed

Challenge Overview

The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by rapid advances in technological innovation—from smartphones and big data to artificial intelligence and machine learning. While new technology can generate jobs and increase labor productivity, it also creates job displacement and widens the skills gap. Today’s generation of young people now face a world in which nearly half of today’s jobs globally—around 2 billion—are at risk of becoming obsolete due to automation and technological advancement in the coming decades.

A job for life is now a thing of the past. The World Bank estimates that 4 out of 5 children entering primary school today will eventually hold jobs that do not currently exist. These fast-changing realities leave ripple effects on communities worldwide, but the world’s poorest are likely to be the most adversely affected by these market shifts.

The ability to acquire new skills throughout life, to adapt, and to work flexibly will be of particular importance. So too will be technical, social, and critical thinking skills. Quality learning opportunities must be deployed by governments, cross-sector industry leaders, and local communities alike to encourage learning experiences that adapt to today’s world, drive income generation, prevent worsening inequality, and provide a prosperous future for all. Building on Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, how can disadvantaged children and young people develop the skills they need to participate in the workforce of the future and thrive in the 21st century?

The Solve community aims to unearth and support innovative solutions to guarantee disadvantaged young people under 24 from low socio-economic (income, wealth, and education) backgrounds are equipped with 21st century skills and prepared for the workforce of the future. To do so, the Solve community can:

  • Suggest innovative learning technologies to help increase skills development for disadvantaged youth around the world
  • Present new educational models and concepts to improve quality of learning for young people in the 21st century
  • Propose tools and strategies to teach skills that will drive entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and adaptability
  • Identify innovative solutions to ensure equal access and inclusion of all genders and people with disabilities to quality education and skills development

Challenge Chairs


Prize Eligibility

Atlassian Foundation International Seeks to Further "10 in 10" Mission with US$1 Million in Partnership Grants

Atlassian Foundation International aims to help prepare 10 million disadvantaged youth for the workforce of the future, within 10 years, or "10 in 10." To further this mission, the foundation is pledging up to US$1 million in grant funding through MIT Solve's Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future Challenge to non-government organizations, nonprofits, social enterprises, academics, entrepreneurs, and for-profit organizations to uncover the world's most scalable education models that prepare disadvantaged youth for the workforce of the future. Atlassian Foundation International is also looking to partner with other organizations who might wish to provide matched funding. An initial amount of up to $500,000 will be granted across several Solvers selected by the Atlassian Foundation, after which these Solvers will be eligible to apply for additional grant funding from the remaining pool in 2017/2018.

The Atlassian Prize Judges include Melissa Beaumont Lee, Katherine Gelito, Macarena MendozaJames McCullough, and Mark Reading.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Indo-Pacific Development Prize

The changing future of the workforce will have a huge effect on the lives of young people in developing countries. Up to $1 million in grant funding will be awarded to innovative Solvers selected by DFAT who will have impact in developing countries in the Indo-Pacific (listed here under Pacific, South-East and East Asia, and South and West Asia). DFAT encourages in particular applications that address the needs of women and girls, and people with a disability. Qualifying Solvers selected during the 2017 Fall Solve Challenge Finals will receive an initial grant of up to $50,000, after which they can apply for additional funding from the remaining grant pool.

The DFAT Indo-Pacific Development Prize Judge judges include Jo-Hannah Lavey, Jeff Roach, and Matthew Steine.

The Arts and Culture Mentorship Prize Curated by Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist

The foundation for creativity is safety and trust, on which are built curiosity, imagination, and collaboration, and finally passion for a subject or skill. The arts and culture mentorship prize will be awarded to Solvers (up to three across all challenges) who present innovative learning technologies, new educational models, tools, or strategies that connect disadvantaged youth’s passion for the arts and culture to 21st century skills.

The Arts and Culture Mentorship Prize Judges include Laura Callanan, Rachel GoslinsLeila Kinney, and Paul Sznewajs.


Accepting Solutions

  • Challenge Opens

Evaluating Solutions

  • Solve Challenge Finals in New York City
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