YEPI: Connecting University Civic Engagement with Graduate Employability in Developing Countries
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YEPI: Connecting University Civic Engagement with Graduate Employability in Developing Countries



Presentation to the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), July 2013.

Presentation to the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), July 2013.



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YEPI: Connecting University Civic Engagement with Graduate Employability in Developing Countries YEPI: Connecting University Civic Engagement with Graduate Employability in Developing Countries Presentation Transcript

  • Youth Economic Participation Initiative Connecting University Civic Engagement with Graduate Employability in Developing Countries ACU Graduate Employment Network Conference 2013 11-13 July 2013
  • Youth unemployment is a major challenge for universities in developing countries • Youth (15-24) make up 17% of the world’s population and 40% of the unemployed • Global youth unemployment is over 12%, more than three times adult unemployment • A university degree is no guarantee of employment • Tunisia – 40% of university graduates are unemployed, compared with 24% of non-graduates (World Economic Forum 2013) • Two problems for university graduates: 1. There is a lack of job opportunities 2. Universities do not equip graduates with skills needed for existing opportunities • South Africa – 600,000 unemployed university graduates and 800,000 unfilled vacancies in 2012 (The Economist 2012). Challenge for higher education in developing countries: How to equip students to find employment or create jobs?
  • Existing research on employability and entrepreneurship education is focused on developed countries and seldom connects civic (community) engagement • Bodies of literature on employability and entrepreneurship education are largely separate, although some authors have attempted to link these topics directly (Moreland 2006; Rae 2007; Kwong, Thompson and Cheung 2012). • Both bodies of research mainly focus on North America and Europe, with literature on developing regions concentrated on a few middle income countries like South Africa (Kwong, Thompson & Cheung 2012). • Current bodies of literature acknowledge the value of social responsibility to their communities, and experiential learning pedagogies are often cited as good practice (Pegg et al 2012; Dhliwayo 2008; Rasmussen and Sorheim 2006; Co and Mitchell 2006).
  • Scholars of civic engagement often assert that engagement can improve student employability, but there is limited hard evidence of this relationship • Evidence of impact on employability is largely anecdotal or based on student and staff perceptions of the effect of civic engagement on employability. • For example, a 2010 survey of 3,000 tertiary students in the UK found that the strongest motivation for volunteering was to improve employability, such as through skills development and CV-boosting (Holdsworth 2010). “Learning and teaching which is engaged within communities provides a range of opportunities of building graduate attributes in areas of citizenship, employability, resilience, problem-solving and self-motivation.” (O’Connor, Lunch, and Owen 2011) “Workforce development is often seen in isolation from the other forms of civic engagement” but “there is considerable overlap between the ‘soft skills’ discussed in the workforce development literature and the ‘civic skills’ increasingly debated in the civic education/engagement community.” (Battistoni and Longo 2005)
  • Talloires Network’s Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI) seeks to begin filling these gaps • YEPI is providing resources and support to graduate employability at engaged universities in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. • Learning from YEPI grantee programs will provide evidence of impact from connecting community engagement activities with employability outcomes. • Talloires Network and grantees will contribute to the scholarly literature on civic engagement, graduate employability, and social entrepreneurship. • A global Community of Practice will create a learning network of shared values, experiences and research findings to improve civic engagement programs.
  • The Talloires Network is uniquely positioned to examine learning outcomes around the world The Talloires Network is an international coalition of universities committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. We work together to advance university civic engagement as a strategy to address societal challenges and improve research, teaching, and learning. • Founded in 2005 in Talloires, France and hosted at Tufts University (USA), the Network is the largest global university association dedicated to civic engagement. • Over 300 university members; 71 countries; over 7 million students. • Partners with 8 national and regional higher education associations.
  • The MasterCard Foundation is a natural partner for this initiative with their focus on Youth Learning Mission: The MasterCard Foundation advances youth learning and promotes financial inclusion to catalyze prosperity in developing countries. Serves 5 million people in 49 developing countries, particularly in Africa Goals of the Foundation’s Youth Learning Prgm: • Scale access to education in Sub-Saharan Africa • Develop skills of out-of-school youth • Connect youth to jobs
  • The Youth Economic Participation Initiative brings together university civic engagement and graduate employment • Launched in 2011 with the MC Foundation • $5.9 million over 4.5 years • Award 6 to 8 Demonstration Grants of $350,000 to $450,000 • One year planning process with 90 multi-country, peer-to-peer interviews and 10 professors participating in six-week online ‘Learning Community’ • Prioritize programs based on strong university-community partnerships with focus: • Soft Skills – Communications, teamwork, problem-solving, public-speaking, leadership, negotiation, and creativity. • Networks – Providing contacts, mentorships, and experience of business environment. • Curricula reform – Collaborating with businesses to bring offerings of university in line with knowledge and skill needs of the market. • Entrepreneurship – Teaching skills required to start a business, providing resources to support enterprise, lower risks of entrepreneurship.
  • YEPI seeks to create a base of knowledge about how universities in developing countries can link civic engagement with their graduate employability agenda YEPI will support the exchange of knowledge through: • A global Community of Practice • A web platform and moderated online discussions about best practices • A Monitoring and Evaluation plan with a learning partner to document and disseminate learning that will be useful YEPI grantees, Talloires Network member universities, and other stakeholders • Moderated online discussions • Webinars • In-person convenings • Progress reports • Monitoring and Evaluation • Conf presentations • Final reports • Peer-reviewed publications • Online trainings • Exemplars • University exchanges Dissemination of results and lessons learned
  • Three finalist cases illustrate the potential for YEPI to make an important contribution to this knowledge base Exemplars  Program 1: Business incubation for green growth, poverty reduction and job creation by training “entrepreneurial-engineers” with technical and managerial skills in Africa.  Program 2: Social innovation in the health sciences such as nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy to develop socially responsible business ventures in Latin America.  Program 3: Service Learning and volunteerism to teach students to become responsible citizens in their communities in South Asia.
  • Business Incubation in Africa Program: Provides an ecosystem combining training, research and businesses on site, allowing students to innovate and create sustainable start-ups working with profitability and locally adapted products and services. Ex: Agribusiness that produces a range of protein enriched caterpillar powders, food supplements to prevent malnutrition. Activities: Lectures, applied research in engineering, internships, international competitions, incubation center or business nursery, and business skills training. University Department: School of Business Reach: 2,000 undergraduate students in 1 year 30 graduate students 10 businesses 7 community partners 26% female enrolment - 90% receive scholarships
  • Social Innovation in Health Sciences in Latin America Program: Combines training and practice to empower students towards self- employment strategies with a focus on single mothers and indigenous students. Helps students build projects to leverage local knowledge to strengthen local and regional economic development. Ex: Association of hair salons providing community health- related services and small business management trainings. Activities: Lectures, workshops, soft skills training, student-community exchanges, free community clinics/services, field research in environmental sciences. University Department: Economics & Management Science Reach: 150 undergraduate students in 1 year 50 teachers 10 businesses 3 community partners ~50% female enrolment – 40% single mothers
  • Student Engagement in Asia Program: Aims to expand the activities of 14 existing student clubs and to provide students with soft skills training and community engagement experience. Ex: Fund- raising, event planning and distribution of aid for victims of nation-wide flood. Activities: Service-learning, guided reflection, volunteerism, charity-based projects, workshops, competitions, soft skills training and disaster relief. University Department: Student Affairs Reach: 5,000 undergraduate students in 1 year 14 student clubs 15 faculty advisors 29 community partners No gender stats (yet) How do these programs prepare students for employment after graduation?
  • YEPI to contribute to a number of key research questions • How can civic engagement contribute to the economic participation of university graduates in various contexts? • In what ways do universities link their civic engagement programs with their efforts to improve graduate economic participation? Civic Engagement Entrepreneur Education Graduate Employability • How can universities prepare entrepreneurial students to launch or join small businesses that have a positive social and economic impact in their communities • How do service learning and other engaged pedagogies contribute to entrepreneurship education and graduate employability? • In transitioning from education to employment, how are the challenges that women face different from those faced by men? Your feedback is welcome!
  • Contact Information ACU and University of Kelaniya - Critical Women Conference: Women as Agents of Change through Higher Education
  • Works Cited Battistoni, Richard M., and Nicholas V. Longo. (2005) “Connecting Workforce Development and Civic Engagement: Higher Education as Public Good and Private Gain.” North Shore Community College Public Policy Institute. Co, Mary Jesselyn, and Bruce Mitchell. (2006) “Entrepreneurship Education in South Africa: A Nationwide Survey.” Education and Training 48.5, 348-359. Dhliwayo, Shepherd. (2008) “Experiential Learning in Entrepreneurship Education: A Prospective Model for South African Tertiary Institutions.” Education and Training 50.4, 329-340. “Education in South Africa: still Dysfunctional.” The Economist. 21 January 2012. Accessed 24 June 2013. <> Holdsworth, Clare. (2010) “Why Volunteer? Understanding Motivations for Student Volunteering.” British Journal of Educational Studies 58.4, 421-437. Kwong, Thompson, Cheung. (2012) “ Effectiveness of Social Business Plan Competitions in Developing Soial and Civic Awareness and Participation” Learning & Education 11.3, 324-348. Moreland, Neil. “Entrepreneurship and Higher Education: An Employability Perspective.” Learning and Employability Series 1. Higher Education Academy, 2006. O’Connor, Kristine Mason, Lunch, Kenny, and David Owen. (2011) “Student-community Engagement and the Development of Graduate Attributes.” Education and Training 53.2/3, 00-115. Pegg, Ann, Waldock, Jeff, Hendy-Isaac, Sonia, and Ruth Lawton. “Pedagogy for Employability.” Higher Education Academy, 2012. Rae, David. (2007)“Connecting Enterprise and Graduate Employability: Challenges to the Higher Education Culture and curriculum?” Education and Training 49.8/9, 605-619. Rasmussen, Einar, and Roger Sørheim. (2006)“Action-based Entrepreneurship Education.” Technovation 26: 185–194. “Youth Unemployment Visualization 2013.” World Economic Forum. 2013. Accessed 24 June 2013. <>