• Social entrepreneurs are at the forefront of reskilling those who need it most to prepare them for the jobs of the future.
  • Here are 5 ways in which social innovators are leading the reskilling revolution around the world.

Social entrepreneurs are using their ingenuity to equip people today for the jobs of tomorrow. The Schwab Foundation For Social Entrepreneurship community has already made an impact on the lives of 622 million people in more than 190 countries, distributed $6.7 billion in loans or value of products and services to improve livelihoods, and improved education for more than 226 million children and youth.

Here are five innovative ways in which the Schwab Foundation’s social entrepreneurs are leading the reskilling revolution:

1. Leaving no one behind

Women make up over two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people, and many of them live in rural areas. In the reskilling revolution, we need to ensure that we leave no one behind.

Barefoot College International, based in India, has demonstrated that illiteracy is not a barrier to poor communities developing themselves. The college disseminates sophisticated technologies to men and women who can barely read and write and trains them to become skilled professionals.

Meagan Fallone, the college’s CEO and director, has made a commitment to leveraging the ‘barefoot approach’, which involves implementing simple, radical and futuristic ideas, approaches or methods to sustainable development where the rural poor can respect and own their projects – whether building their own water pump or solar panels. The goal is to empower them to meet their community’s needs and address the pressing challenges of economic inequality, human rights and climate change at a global scale. “Inequality is not about who has more; it’s about my ability to reach my aspirations, whatever they are, with the same lack of resistance along the way,” Fallone says.

2. Fostering equitable education systems

Education is and will remain critical for promoting inclusive economic growth and providing a future of opportunity for all. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries.

First Book, a non-profit social enterprise, uses market forces to address the systemic barriers to quality education for children in need. First Book provides access to new books and resources for kids who need them most, helping fuel a love of reading and learning. Every $3 donated pays for one new book (including the cost of shipping) to a child in need.

For families with children who have special needs, such as children with medical conditions or developmental disabilities, disruptions caused by the pandemic are amplified.

Enuma is a mission-driven company that creates exceptional learning apps to enable all children, including children with special needs, to become independent learners. Co-founded by Sooinn and Gunho Lee, a game-developer couple inspired by their child who was born with special needs, Enuma’s approach to product design innovatively combines universal design for learning principles, best practices in commercial game design, Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and educational research to build the best-quality digital learning products for children. Enuma’s products have been downloaded more than 8 million times worldwide.

3. Empowering young women for the jobs of tomorrow

The IMF projects that 11% of jobs currently held by women are at risk of elimination as a result of digital technologies – a higher percentage than for jobs held by men. Though STEM experts may be at a distinct advantage in tomorrow’s workforce, most of them are men.

Africa Teen Geeks is fixing that problem. As Africa’s largest computer science education non-profit organisation, Africa Teen Geeks teaches children and unemployed youth how to code in the townships of South Africa, reaching over 48,000 children and recruiting 1,300 volunteers. They make use of an artificial intelligence-based learning platform MsZora, developed for STEM subjects and easily accessible to students regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

Lindiwe Matlali, Africa Teen Geeks’ CEO and Founder, focuses on inspiring girls from disadvantaged areas to dream big and realise their full potential. Her organisation gets girls excited about careers in STEM by demystifying the industry, showing them the many opportunities that exist, and building confidence in their skills through their Girl Geek programme. “With more widespread, equal access to computer science, and female mentors and role models in STEM, we believe we can drastically change these numbers,” she says.

What skills are most useful for tomorrow's workers?

Read the rest of Pavitra Raja’s article here at World Economic Forum