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Solve-a-thon Tackles the Workforce of the Future


Friday, 7th July 2017 at 4:23 pm
Wendy Williams, Journalist
A new “Solve-a-thon” has been launched in a bid to harness the best and brightest ideas from around the world to help solve the issue of the future workforce.


Friday, 7th July 2017
at 4:23 pm
Wendy Williams, Journalist


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Solve-a-thon Tackles the Workforce of the Future
Friday, 7th July 2017 at 4:23 pm

A new “Solve-a-thon” has been launched in a bid to harness the best and brightest ideas from around the world to help solve the issue of the future workforce.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, along with representatives from Atlassian and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, opened the Sydney Solve-a-thon on Friday.

The workshop, one of 10 being held in the Indo-Pacific region, supports the DFAT, Atlassian and MIT Solve Challenge to find the best ideas to prepare disadvantaged young people for the workforce of the future.

Bishop said it was a challenge to come up with the most promising ideas about tackling a significant issue for the future.

“And that is what will be the jobs, what will be the industries, what will be the sectors, that provide employment for young people, particularly in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific,” Bishop said.

“So together we are asking the best and brightest ideas from people around the world to be submitted to our Solve-a-thon, and we will use those ideas to come up with policies that will address this issue of the future of workforces in our part of the world.”

It comes a month after Atlassian and DFAT announced they had each contributed $1.4 million to the MIT-led Solve global challenge, Youth and the Workforce of the Future, which aims to crowd-source expertise and innovative ideas from around the globe to help prepare communities and governments for the future of work.

Bishop said the government partnership with Atlassian Foundation and MIT was an example of how they were “embracing innovative ideas to tackle the challenges of the future in a world” where technological change was “so rapid, the scale and pace, disrupting the way we live, the way we work and the jobs of the future”.

“It’s important that the Australian government in its overseas development program, embraces technology, embraces innovation to answer some of the most intractable questions that we have faced,” she said.

Solve MIT community relations senior officer, learning Sara Monteabaro told Pro Bono News the United Nations had recognised the workforce of the future was a challenge that must be addressed.

“It is estimated that half of today’s jobs globally are at risk of becoming obsolete in the coming decades,” Monteabaro said.

“It is the world’s poorest communities that will feel the impact most. We need to start thinking today about what the future workforce will look like and the skills young people will need to thrive in the 21st century.”

As part of the Solve challenge “solvers” from around the world have been asked to come forward with innovative tools and strategies to guarantee disadvantaged young people under 24 from low socio-economic (income, wealth, and education) backgrounds are equipped with 21st century skills.

The most promising ideas will be awarded pilot funding, with the potential to be scaled up for regional application.

With this in mind the Solve-a-thons, which are taking place globally, aim to give participants a chance to workshop their ideas to strengthen the proposal before submission.

Monteabaro said the Solve-a-thon design workshops were rooted in human-centered design and aimed to generate and refine solutions, “whether they be ideas from scratch or existing projects”, to prepare applicants to submit their “best possible solutions” by the 1 August deadline.

“In Sydney we are hosting people representing NGOs, government, private sector (including IT) and the research community,” she said.

“Eight pre-existing ideas with the potential to impact disadvantaged youth in the Indo-Pacific and globally, were chosen to refine and workshop their solutions with curated teams cross-sector participants.

“Today we are asking the groups to throw away pre-existing notions about their solutions, and instead, think specifically about the individuals they are solving for.”


Wendy Williams  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector.

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