By Leila Toplic, NetHope, and Vina Barahman, UNICEF
The No Lost Generation (NLG) Tech Summit is a two-day event, co-led by UNICEF and NetHope, focused on tech-enabled solutions that connect Learning to Earning for vulnerable adolescents and youth across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Here are five things you should know about this third annual NLG Tech Summit:
1) This year’s NLG Tech Summit is focusing on a major challenge and opportunity for the region—connecting learning to earning. The challenges that adolescents and youth face in the region in terms of learning relevant skills and access to dignified employment, together with the fast-changing nature of work, call for reimagining how they learn and access work throughout their lives. We need to shift from thinking about work as a job or a fixed set of tasks and education as a one-time activity to thinking about learning as lifelong and work as a ‘portfolio of work’ that consists of a range of different projects, jobs, some of which can be done remotely. To make that possible, we need everyone working together—nonprofits, private sector, educators, policymakers, youth and communities.
2) There are already a number of promising solutions focused on Learn-to-Earn in the region. Through a call-for-solutions, we identified a set of promising tech-enabled solutions from all over the world that are already meeting the education and employment needs of the young people in the MENA region by breaking down the silos between how young people learn and how they access dignified work. These solutions are good examples of the types of programs, innovations, and contributions we hope to see more of from different stakeholders in Learn-to-Earn ecosystem. At the Summit, we plan to learn from them and work together to address the challenges these solutions face in reaching scale and impact, as well as identify the gaps and opportunities beyond those solutions and collaborate on the next steps.
3) Youth are actively engaged in planning for this Summit and for their futures. Young people from all over the region are involved in all aspects of the Summit—from actively shaping the strategy for the Summit through their representation on the Steering Committee to contributing to the Summit production as designers, social media managers, videographers, and getting ready to actively shape the conversations at the Summit through their presentations and active participation.
4) It takes a collective action to re-imagine how young people learn and access meaningful work today and in the future. Eleven UN/NGO agencies and a Youth Advisory Board are working together to design and implement this third annual NLG Tech Summit. At the Summit, 250 representatives of the UN/NGO agencies, youth, private sector, academia, startups and accelerators, donors, and government will come together to share, learn, and collaborate.
5) Creating the change we want to see in Learn-to-Earn in MENA region will take time and all of us working together both at and after the Summit. To overcome the complex challenges exacerbated by crises and conflict, stagnating economies and social divide, all of us—private sector, public sector, and civil society—need to work together to close the gap between education and work by signaling what kind of work is available and supporting relevant training, by investing in upskilling and reskilling of the workforce, by broadening the employment opportunities to include all viable sources of dignified work, by creating policies that foster and support entrepreneurship, and more.