Improving Education With 17,000 Youth Voices

Flashback to when you were just starting university, completely lost and confused about what to do with your life and trying to answer always burning "what are you going to do after graduation" question.
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Flashback to when you were just starting university, completely lost and confused about what to do with your life and trying to answer always burning "what are you going to do after graduation" question. Now that you're probably working, you most likely have a list of things that you wish you could have told yourself when you were 20.

These are the things we are exactly trying to do with YouthSpeak, a global youth insight survey on improving education and employment. I'm here to share my insights on the humongous sets of opinions and data we have discovered by surveying 17,000 youth aged 18-25 across 120+ countries and territories so far. Most of the time, it is leaders and professionals educating the youth, but I believe it is also important that youth educate more senior generations as well.

Education is consistently ranked as the top priority for youth worldwide and is again reinforced in the 5+ million strong United Nations MYWorld survey.

Despite the many current failures of education systems, optimism remains.
75 pecent of youth still believe that Education is important in helping them achieve their future goals.

Youth were given the ability to rate education through a NPS score:
  • Negative 52 percent
  • Passive 36 percent
  • Promotors 12 percent
  • If we were to grade the education system, it would receive a failing grade.
"Do you feel like you have the guidance and support for your ideal post-graduation support"
  • Yes - 44.3 percent
  • No - 55.7 percent

Our survey was already comprised of typically more ambitious students, and members of AIESEC (40 percent were non-AIESEC members), but even within this segment, 55.7 percent of youth indicated that they don't have the proper post-graduation support to achieve their career goals.

The way young people learn are completely opposite of what's currently prescribed to them during their education experiences. They prefer self-driven learning methods.

Top 5 skills in demand from youth:
  • Leadership & Team Management (highest)
  • New Languages
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
  • Judgement and Decision Making
How do young people prefer to learn new skills in ranking:
  • Experiential learning -- learn by doing (highest)
  • Volunteering experiences
  • On the job training
  • Conferences and events
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • At school
  • Self-taught books
  • Informal networks and peers
  • Online classrooms & e-learning (lowest)
Potential solutions & ideas for improving Education:
  • Need for cross-sector collaboration: We're often trying to solve problems without a diverse set of decision makers. We need to include educators, government, business, non-profits and especially the youth voice. It's like solving a problem without even understanding the needs of the a key stakeholder, the youth.
  • Create more creative problem solvers: Focus less on rigorous exams and theory, but prioritizing critical thinking, team work and creative problem solving. Collaboration is key to solving many of the world's most pressing issues, and it requires this spirit of collaboration to be fostered early.
  • Stop overwhelming students: Currently the education system is very much spoon-feeding information to students, and asking them to regurgitate the information, and then the next day they forget everything because they are so sleep deprived. How do you expect anyone to learn? Similar to the current work system, it overwhelms its employees and causing a crash and burn cycle. That needs to change if we want students to be making better decisions in a critical period of their lives.
  • Experiential learning: Learn by doing is needed in a constantly changing world that is always unpredictable. Because there are often no rules or instructions for solving many of challenges today, students need to be prepared to think on their feet and innovate their own solutions and not wait for instructions. Failure is one of the greatest teachers of wisdom.
  • Kill the 4-year degree: It's like putting the student on pause while the world keeps moving faster and faster hoping that the student can catch up once he/she exits school. We need an education system that is much more flexible and responsive to the world. Sitting in classrooms for a year just don't cut it anymore. What we should provide is breaks between the years and shorter-term formal degrees that extend into gaining credits while in the workplace and training outside the classroom - like mentorship, coaching and meaningful experiences.
  • Diverse learning experiences: We cannot expect young people to learn effectively if they are stuck in classrooms for most of the day. We need to better mix things like internships, volunteering, on-site job experiences, travel opportunities, mentoring, and projects that stimulate entrepreneurship.

I have huge hopes for my generation as they have found positivity in discovering their own solutions despite the problems of many of our failing systems. But it also means we need to take the courage to work across sectors and even multiple generations to develop meaningful solutions so more young people can achieve their fullest potential. We must start with listening to each other more if we are to find these solutions.


You can learn more about what we're doing here at AIESEC with the global youth insight survey, YouthSpeak. We've also in collaboration with the United Nations Millennium Campaign, MY World survey, global employers and many more in discovering solutions to improve youth development - with a focus in the education to employment journey. We'll be releasing a report in December, followed by a second round of youth insights in 2015.

We're on a mission to reach 50k respondents by March 2015 to improve youth development in education and employment.

Are you under 30? Take 10 minutes to help improve the lives of youth worldwide. Fill in the YouthSpeak survey
Above 30? Download our YouthSpeak preliminary results to educate yourself on youth opinion and share the insights

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