Project Representative
Mona Mourshed
Creation Date: 2015
Geographical Reach: Global
Nature and number of beneficiaries: 19,000 unemployed and underemployed young people have graduated from the Generation program to date.


About the Project

Generation is a youth employment organization operating in 69 cities and 164 sites in eight countries—active programs in China (Hong Kong), India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, and programs soon to be launched in Pakistan and the UK. Generation recruits youth, trains them in profession-specific skills, and places them in jobs. Once on the job, Generation measures return on investment for graduates (personal and financial well-being) and employers (productivity and quality outcomes, retention, and speed to promotion). Their mission is two-fold: to empower young people to build thriving, sustainable careers and to provide employers the highly skilled, motivated talent they need.

Generation is only three years old, but they are the fastest-scaling and largest demand-driven global youth employment program by annual volume. Generation offers programs in 23 professions across four sectors, and have approximately 19,000 graduates. They have attained industry-leading job placement and retention rates, and are proving impact for youth and employers.

Context and Issue

Youth unemployment is a global problem with more than 73 million unemployed and many more underemployed. Yet, 40% of employers say they cannot find the talent they need even for entry-level roles. In addition, youth unemployment and underemployment play a part in economic underperformance, social unrest, and widespread individual heartbreak.

Many workforce programs seek to bridge this gap, spending hundreds of billions of dollars per year. They fall short because they tend to be supply-driven and therefore have job placement rates below 50%; and, for those that are demand-driven and place youth in jobs, they tend to be small annual volume, expensive, and single-country focused. Further, few programs measure the return on investment for both learners and employers after placement, making their systemic participation challenging. Young people want to know the pay off in terms of personal and financial well-being. Employers cite lack of evidence on such measures as productivity, quality, and retention, as the major reason for why they do not invest more in training. What is needed is a lower-cost and quality-assured model that can replicated rapidly in different country and industry contexts.

Generation demonstrates a model that is globally scalable and replicable, and proves value to both learners and employers. We designed Generation to achieve high employment and retention rates, deliver tangible return on investment for learners and employers, and be cost-effective, scalable, and global.

Solution and Impact

Generation serves unemployed and underemployed young people ages 18-29. They are disconnected from the labor market and have struggled to find meaningful work. Of Generation's learners, 54% are female and 40% have dependents (children or other family members). After completing Generation, graduates earn two to six times more than they did before the program. To date, their graduates have earned more than $60 million in cumulative salary, earnings that enable them and their dependents to attain greater economic and social stability and have a ripple effect on their communities.

Generation’s seven-step approach addresses gaps in the employment value chain:
1) Employers:  the organization confirms job vacancies with employers.
2) Recruitment: Generation identifies learners based on intrinsics and commitment.
3) “Bootcamp” training: Their 4-12 week program integrates technical, behavioral, and mindset skills and offers repeated practice of the most important activities.
4) Social support services: Generation offers financial support and mentorship so students can focus on learning.
5) Community: They develop alumni networks which foster a supportive environment.
6) Return on investment: Generation tracks metrics on participant well-being, employer ROI, and program effectiveness.
7) Data: They track learner data through recruitment, bootcamp, and job performance.  

Generation’s approach is innovative along five dimensions. First, Generation is one of the few global workforce programs, spanning 8 countries and 69 cities. Second, they offer programs in four sectors and 23 diverse professions—from nursing assistant to robotics process automation. Third, they have designed their own curriculum to integrate technical, behavioral and mindset skills required for the job, focusing on those activities that differentiate high-performing employees. Fourth, they gather return on investment data for both their learners and employers.  And last, with more than 19,000 graduates in three years, they are the fastest scaling and largest global demand-driven youth employment programs today by annual volume.

Generation seeks positive results for graduates and employers, and to continually assess program effectiveness. A secure database tracks data, and they work with third party assessment agencies to measure results. Learner data they compile includes metrics about course completion, job placement, continued employment, income, and well-being. For employers, they gather data on recruitment and training cost, productivity and quality outcomes, retention, and speed to promotion. As outlined above, they have seen strong results from our 19,000+ graduates, with 82% employed within 3 months of program completion and 62% still employed one year later.

Future Developments

Generation’s goal has always been to create a program that becomes financially self-sufficient. Philanthropic funding has provided the catalyst to set up new programs as they make their case to employers and local governments. Long term, the sources of sustainable funding are employers and governments, supplemented by small learner fees. Already, by the end of 2017, they had achieved 40% sustainable funding. They expect to reach 60-70% by the end of 2018 and close to 100% by the end of 2020.

They seek to expand in three ways:
1) Geography – Generation recently added two new countries: the United Kingdom and Hong Kong (China), and expect to add five or six more in 2018.
2) Demographics – While their focus is youth, they believe that 80% of their program is age-agnostic. They have a chance to test this through what they are calling “ReGeneration”, a reskilling model for older workers who have been displaced by automation and digitization, and are currently in conversations to pilot in two countries in 2018.
3) Employer practices – Negative workplace practices are a main driver of entry-level employee attrition.  They have recently begun piloting how changes to workplace practices can support Generation graduates and their peers to thrive.

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