The Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI) aims to help institutions of higher education better prepare their students for fulfilling careers. The catalyst for YEPI was a multi-country youth outreach report that demonstrated a gap between job market requirements and the preparedness of graduates, and pointed towards entrepreneurship as a solution to the youth unemployment crisis facing many countries. It found that young people were unable to find steady employment after graduating from institutions of higher education, due to a lack of opportunity and because they were deemed unfit for the labor market. Entrepreneurs create opportunities not only for themselves, but can also provide employment for others.
To gain a deeper understanding of how programs successfully teach entrepreneurship and prepare students for employment, the Talloires Network (TN) worked with eight university-affiliated programs in ten countries: Burkina Faso, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These programs demonstrate innovative teaching methods that produce graduates who are ready to enter the labor force. TN worked with a group of professors from the University of Minnesota as a Learning Partner to support the programs in creating as large an impact as possible by helping programs build on strengths and overcome challenges. Their findings can help develop similarly successful programs around the world.
The YEPI Year 2 report illustrates that:
(1) higher education can support vibrant and robust transformational entrepreneurship;
(2) transformational entrepreneurship programs both require and catalyze significant changes in the typical ways higher education institutions teach and work with young people; and
(3) entrepreneurship education must be responsive to its context.
Using qualitative evidence from each YEPI partner site, the report presents concrete strategies to support transformational entrepreneurship education. Transformational entrepreneurship education focuses on business skills, leadership, and personal development in students. This combination creates young adults who are ready to enter the modern job market and confident in starting enterprises.
The complete findings of the Learning Partner are presented in the full Year Two report, while the summary report is informed by their findings.