Extending our reach to help Middle Eastern and African youth gain job skills
By Dennis Yang, CEO, Udemy
Udemy’s mission is to help anyone, anywhere, learn virtually anything. We believe that access to high-quality learning resources is the key to empowering people around the world to get on a path to upward mobility, achieve their goals, and improve their circumstances. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with Microsoft to accelerate our ability to offer online skills training to youth in the Middle East and Africa (MENA), where unemployment rates continue to climb.
Youth unemployment in the MENA region is expected to reach 30% by 2018. According to the World Bank, the youth unemployment rate is currently 38% in Egypt and more than 33% in Jordan. And these figures don’t take into account the Syrian refugee population, which would inflate the percentages even more in those countries as well as in Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon. Even South Africa, a leading economy in sub-Saharan Africa, has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the region at 54%.
At Udemy, we know that access to critical training and skills can break the unemployment cycle and get people into good, sustainable jobs. Udemy’s Social Innovation program, our initiative for working with nonprofit, NGO, and for-profit entities, is one way we lend a helping hand to populations hungry for education and employment resources. We connected with Microsoft to get involved in YouthWorks, or Ta3mal, as it’s called in the Arab world, to offer skills-based courses in the MENA region. YouthWorks is a network of websites managed by Silatech and Microsoft, where young people can find content and tools designed to help them secure jobs.
With this partnership, Udemy is building upon our already significant presence in the developing world. In fact, enrollment by students from developing countries is outpacing all others, with the majority of new student sign-ups since February 2014 coming from these regions. Not surprisingly, this student segment uses mobile devices heavily and represented the bulk of Udemy’s mobile sign-ups in 2015, a trend we fully expect to continue. Generally speaking, non-U.S. countries are the powerhouse behind Udemy’s ongoing growth, especially emerging economies like Brazil and India, while developed countries continue to enroll more students too.
As more young people in MENA access our courses through YouthWorks, we’re looking forward to seeing which categories are most popular so we can continue to deliver great training on the specific skills these students need to transition into successful working adults. We’re humbled at this opportunity to help them achieve better futures for themselves, their families, and their countries.