2.1.3 Tap recent college graduates to teach business and ITC skills in local communities and international contexts.

Low job placement rates for university graduates continue to confound young people in the developed and developing world. Talented young people are graduating into unemployment, with few economic options to show for their hard work and family’s sacrifice. This is a problem that affects what many in the field refer to as the “missing middle”— the middle class of emerging economies—but it certainly is not restricted to emerging economies. Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), a leading international social enterprise that transforms young people (DOT Interns) into leaders of change as they facilitate technology, business, and entrepreneurial learning among people in their communities, has developed a model for working with recent graduates throughout the developing world and in the United States.

Bright Ideas: College Graduates Bring 21st Century Skills to their Communities with Digital Opportunity Trust

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) has developed a youth-led model that channels the talent and aspirations of young college graduates while bridging 21st century skills gaps in communities that are developing, under stress, or in transition. DOT builds the capacity of college graduates who commit to working as trainers and mentors for nine months in their communities, providing business and technology skills training to both youth and adults. Each receives a stipend to respect the value of their time and energy and to create an important mutual bond of accountability. The model has engaged more than 4,000 interns and trained over 8,000 people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the USA. Following is a breakdown of the training DOT provides:

* ReachUp! provides personal empowerment, workforce readiness, entrepreneurial and technology training, and coaching to young women and men to nurture self-confidence and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit to build sustainable livelihoods. In Kenya and Rwanda, 90 percent of DOT Interns, and 41 percent of ReachUp! participants, have found jobs or started or expanded new businesses. 

* StartUp! Interns help equip entrepreneurs with business and technology knowledge, coaching, and networking so that they are able to develop new business concepts and secure resources. StartUp! participants are creating small and micro businesses and generating new jobs in their communities.

* TeachUp! places DOT Interns in schools to assist teachers and administrators with the integration of technology and innovation into curriculum and day-to-day activities in their classrooms. Improved use of technology and essential 21st century skills is preparing students to compete in the global economy.

DOT interns not only help others in their community gain important business and technology skills, but the interns themselves acquire workforce readiness skills and new professional networks that make them more marketable in the local workforce. The result is a win-win. DOT Interns are snapped up by employers or start their own enterprises, local businesses are formed in DOT communities, microfinance is attracted, jobs are created, and family incomes rise. DOT’s community-based partners now have increased capacity to deliver ongoing business support services within the local context. Young women are playing a greater role in community affairs and DOT’s local managers are increasingly being invited into the policy dialogue as governments grapple with critical youth unemployment challenges. As importantly, DOT youth are staying in their countries with newfound confidence that they can, and will, contribute to their economies.

For more information about DOT, see: www.dotrust.org.