Remote learning and work

Bringing online opportunities to young people in remote areas.

A young woman stands on a hilltop in Lebanon, with many buildings in the background.
UNICEF/UN0127583/Khamissy

A young woman stands on a hilltop in Lebanon, with many buildings in the background.
UNICEF/UN0127583/Khamissy

How can we expand access to remote learning and work opportunities for young people who live in refugee camps or have limited local opportunities?

The Issue

Opportunities for learning and work have historically been a function of location. This is a critical constraint for young people living in areas with limited local economic opportunity.

According to the ILO’s School-to-Work Transition Surveys (SWTS) 2017, young people living in rural areas had a longer transition: 15.4 months, compared to their urban counterparts, 13.3 months.

The majority of rural workers, especially young people aged 15 to 24, hold precarious and poorly remunerated jobs. For example, young people in rural areas are one third as likely to have contracted employment compared to their urban counterparts, and 40 per cent more likely to be in casual wage work without a contract.

The Opportunity

Combining online learning with online work offers new potential for people who have limited local opportunities. It also helps to shorten feedback loops between education and employment. For example, when technology companies build new coding systems, online learning and work platforms enable young people to quickly learn the new coding language and then put those skills to work through online gig-based contracts.

Remote internet-based learning and work platforms are achieving increasing levels of maturity. For example, between 2016 and 2017, projects sourced by Fortune 500 companies via online freelancing platforms grew 26 percent.

The gig economy and the offshoring and outsourcing of service sector jobs are an example and a catalyst of this trend.

While remote learning and work have grown substantially, these opportunities have not extended to all areas. There is considerable potential to expand the reach of these developments to underserved populations. Some areas where they could potentially be applied with big impact even include refugee camps or urban slums.

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