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The Challenge
By 2030 the global labor force will see an increase of 600 million to 3.5 billion, with sixty percent of this net increase taking place in South Asia and Africa. Unless secondary education trends double or triple, one billion of the 3.5 billion will lack secondary education.

While many countries in these regions have raised secondary education as a priority, the explicit link between secondary education and skills for employment is still absent in many national education systems – a significant problem given the fact that most youth entering the workforce will not obtain any education beyond the secondary level. In addition, an increasingly interconnected global economy and rapid evolution of traditional labor roles means that conventional ways of delivering skills for employment are becoming less relevant and responsive to workforce demands. There is therefore an urgent need to reevaluate the skills needed for employability in the 21st century economy, and to find innovative models to deliver these skills to students.

The Opportunity
Global acknowledgement that poorly performing secondary education is at the root of high unemployment has created momentum toward a better understanding of how that might be changed. Increasingly, industries are cooperating with education and training providers to ensure that students are receiving the skills training that will prepare them for the workforce. However, the overall gap between what students are currently learning at the secondary level and the skills they need to gain and retain employment is still largely undefined.

Understanding this ‘skills mismatch’ and identifying ways to overcome it will provide educators, policymakers, donors, and other stakeholders the tools to better prepare youth for the 21st century workforce.

Our Work
Through the Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement (ISESE) project, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, Results for Development (R4D) identified the skills required for work in the 21st century economies of Africa and Asia, and explored innovative models of delivering these skills to youth of secondary school age.

The upcoming budget for the Chicago Public Schools will rely on $500 million

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