Since 2019, Future Skills workshops have been delivered in 45+ countries to 60,000 young people.
Evolving in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Initially devised as an in-person experience, the delivery of EY Future Skills Workshops had to change when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. As highlighted by a 2020 survey of leading youth-focused organizations, the mass pivot to virtual learning has been fraught with challenges, from maintaining levels of enthusiasm and interaction in a digital setting to providing the additional training and guidance required by facilitators to run successful virtual events.
Yet, for all these challenges, the move to digital delivery has expanded the scale and reach of EY Future Skills Workshops. In-person experiences concentrated on services where provider organizations are based, whereas virtual models were able to connect people — irrespective of location and background — driving scale and increasing equity.
The Italian experience
For example, in Italy, EY partnered with JA Italia to deliver in-person workshops in the main cities near its offices. In February 2020, EY Italy and JA Italia were planning to deliver Future Skills Workshops in Milan, Rome and Brescia. The first workshop in Milan went ahead as planned, but the pandemic meant the team had to switch to virtual delivery for the remaining two.
The experience made EY Italy and JA Italia realize that they could expand the program into more regions, involving schools from remote towns and islands where there were higher unemployment rates and fewer economic and education opportunities.
For the ensuing 12 months, all the Future Skills Workshops were delivered virtually to a much more geographically diverse audience. Today, with restrictions lifted, the program has moved to a hybrid in-person (main cities) and virtual (regions) delivery, ensuring it continues to reach students in remote areas.
One EY volunteer has emphasized that “Understanding the power of collective actions to make a difference in education gives me purpose. The workshops are valuable in guiding students and setting them up for a brighter future.”
To extend the program’s reach even further, EY then joined forces with SAP to develop and roll out textbased courses, distilling EY Future Skills Workshop modules on entrepreneurship into bite-size learning, provided via daily text messages. These text-based courses were accessible to anyone with a mobile phone and have had 10,000 completions in eight countries.
For one learner in Nigeria, the challenge “is to get a machine to become an entrepreneur. [The text-based course] has been helpful. I was able to apply these skills and learning in my daily doings.”
Evolving to directly support teachers and ministries of education
To reduce reliance on EY facilitators, the EY Ripples team in 2021 began pilots to provide EY Future Skills Workshops content directly to teachers.
In Lebanon, EY volunteers collaborated with Teach for Lebanon to train 82 teachers to deliver Future Skills Workshop modules to their students, including high-need groups like refugees. The Teach for Lebanon teachers are now empowered to deliver Future Skills content autonomously to their students, already reaching more than 3,600 students.
Similarly, in the United Arab Emirates, by collaborating with the Minister of Government Development Office and Emirates School Establishment, Future Skills Workshops have reached more than 40,000 students from across 100+ schools. Eighteen EY volunteers delivered five virtual sessions across the topics of emerging technology, blockchain, IoT, artificial intelligence and more, to students between the ages of 16-18.
In the future, EY plans to continue this initiative of leveraging Future Skills Workshops content in collaboration with the UAE's government.