When Generation CEO and president Mona Mourshed accepted the 2018 WISE award, it marked a milestone in the brief history of Generation, an independent not for profit launched by McKinsey in 2014. Every year, the WISE awards recognize six projects that provide innovative solutions to pressing education challenges around the world, from youth unemployment to the refugee crisis to entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities.
While most youth-employment programs focus on a particular country or sector, Generation’s ambition is global and multisector, and its impact on unemployed youth and on employers has been significant. Chosen from 413 applicants, it is the only workforce-skills-related program to receive an award this year, and it is a particular honor because most winners have long track records while Generation has accomplished a great deal in less than 4 years.
Generation addresses the needs of employers and unemployed young adults
Today, more than 75 million young adults are out of work globally, and three times as many are underemployed. At the same time, 40 percent of employers say a skills shortage is leaving them with entry-level vacancies.
Generation has the dual mission to empower young people to build thriving, sustainable careers and to provide employers with the highly skilled, motivated talent they need. Generation is a demand-driven program, meaning that the team focuses on identifying employers who need talent and are having difficulty finding it and that it prepares a qualified supply of trained graduates. In its first 3 years, Generation has worked with thousands of employer partners and has launched careers for more than 22,000 young adults across the world.
Prudential Insurance gets a better ROI on sales recruits
Prudential in Kenya had a recruiting problem. For years, Prudential would bring in large numbers of recruits and spend time and energy training them as insurance salespeople, but they had a very low success rate. “People would come in … masses. We’d take them through the business opportunity and how to go out and sell. But out of that big group, we’d soon be left with only three or four people,” shares Julius Mulera, a manager with Prudential Life Insurance in Kenya.
Generation has helped Prudential solve that problem in a few important ways. Generation graduates are equipped to start selling insurance products from day one, thanks to the practical skills taught in the programs through simulations and role plays. They already know what the job entails and are ready to stay for the long haul. And they perform better, too—the typical Generation graduate closes one sale for every five customers they approach—compared with one in 20 for other agents, a huge improvement.
Young adults are prepared to succeed and vastly improve their earning power
More employer-supported programs mean more training and placement options for students. Isabel is a university graduate in Spain who studied tourism. Like many peers in her region, she had a degree, but not the skills that employers sought. She had applied to 20 jobs over 6 months by the time she came to Generation. She joined the robotic-process-automation (RPA) program 1 year ago. This was a profession that she did not even know existed, and she initially thought that she needed to have a math or engineering background in order to do well. Seven weeks later, she graduated and was employed by a financial institution. She is earning a salary of €22,000 per year and has a permanent contract. RPA is a growing need for businesses across sectors, but since it’s a new kind of role, employers are facing challenges finding qualified candidates.
Generation’s innovative approach continues to fuel the organization’s expansion
With the help of innovations like new ROI tools to measure the cost per hire, and the validation of the WISE award, Generation is well poised to continue to grow—with plans to soon expand to five new countries.