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Confronting the Education Gap


After meeting at the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg in 2013, Vugar Adigozalov from Azerbaijan and Tamila Mukhamedyarova from Tajikistan combined their shared interest in helping marginalised groups and founded the Academy of Modern Studies (AMS)- an initiative to combat youth unemployment in aAzerbaijan, Russia, Georgia and Sri Lanka.

Education is a crucial part of development that has the potential to counter poverty and hunger. Although youth make up the dominant majority of the global population, they are the demographic that is most likely to be unemployed. If we could mobilise youth and provide them with an education, there is unsurmountable potential for us to become global change makers.

The challenges in tackling unemployment are becoming more complex. Education is accessed differently by people in developed and developing countries, and even within those countries, among privileged and less privileged backgrounds.

We met each other at the Youth Unemployment Plenary Session during the One Young World Summit 2013 in Johannesburg. During the Plenary Session, we learned that 76% of delegates believed that youth unemployment is insufficiently addressed and 80% believed that the unemployment rate in their country would not decrease in the next year.

Hearing these numbers, we were inspired to do something about the situation we were witnessing, so we created a social business with the aim of combating the issue of unemployment. The Academy of Modern Studies (AMS) provides skills-based professional education to young entrepreneurs and job-seekers from marginalised backgrounds to combat youth unemployment in Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia and Sri Lanka. We are focused on educating people who are from marginalised backgrounds like refugees, sexual and ethnic minorities, migrants and young at-risk people. Today we have over 400 graduates who have successfully landed jobs with the help of AMS.

While creating a business model for the Academy of Modern Studies we researched the job market and defined the major characteristics that were essential to employers. We knew the problem, and it was time to solve the issue.

Our solution includes providing a number of different programmes, which will help tailor the needs and skills of our students to specific jobs and fields.

One of our programmes is a One-Year Programme that brings together experienced leaders with the next generation of change-makers. Our One-Year programme takes place in two phases. The first phase is the 10 week Incubation Phase on campus and is followed by a 10 month Implementation Phase. AMS Angels, a programme for young entrepreneurs, is designed to help young leaders turn their ideas into action with the help of its unique mentoring methods, experiential learning programmes, and access to a wide network of experts and partnered internships.

We also offer a shorter 10-12 week Fellowship that is focused on mentorship and skills-based teachings. Fellows who enroll in this programme, go on to complete a two to six month internship at a company that works in their field or interest. The programme is designed to help Fellows develop the skills necessary to face the challenges present in the job-seeking process as well as create a lasting career path.

Soon, AMS will present its online school for distance education and personal coaching to increase its capacity and reach.

The evolving nature of today's world means that programmes which can assist young people to connect to the labour market are going to have a very beneficial impact. At AMS we believe in change and the power of new approaches towards combating the unemployment problem. AMS believes that there has to be strong collaboration between industry and education and for this to occur.

It's clear that new and integrated approaches to our education and employment systems are needed if we are to prevent the economic and social strain that youth unemployment causes. Tackling the barriers to youth employment is the responsibility of industry, government and educational institutions. We need to work together to ensure young jobseekers are getting the knowledge and experience they need to be work-ready.

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