Changing the course of life of young people through 21st century skills

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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Artak Ordyan

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Armenia

Where are you making a difference?

Lori region of Armenia

Website or social media url(s)

When was your organisation founded?

UNICEF was founded in 1946, while UNICEF Armenian in 1994

Focus areas

  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways) 

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • United Nation's Fund for Children

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

UNICEF works to protect the rights of every child in Armenia through its education, health, child protection, youth empowerment and disaster risk reduction programming.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

In Armenia, there are more than 356,000 adolescents (age 10-19) - 12% of the total population. Every 3rd young person (age 15-24) is either not in school, nor in employment (36.6 per cent), which is a high rate in this region. The majority of adolescents feel that they are not included in decision making processes in their communities, and many express the desire to be given an opportunity to make the change.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

UNICEF connects secondary education and training to employment and entrepreneurship, empowering every young person to thrive in the 21st century. UPSHIFT helps marginalized adolescents and youth become social innovators and social entrepreneurs, enhance their participation in their own communities by providing experiential learning, understanding of community challenges. It helps young people to design and build solutions in the form of products or services, as well as to lead the ventures that deliver them. This is done through training mentors who support groups of vulnerable adolescents and adolescents in project design and project management, financial management, reporting and other business processes.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

In 2019, 10 teams - 50 young girls and boys came together in the first round of UPSHIFT program for youth to present their ideas and projects. For many of them, this was the first time that they had a chance to develop an idea that grew into a project, and then a reality that is already changing their community. As a result of one of the mini-projects, the river in Gyumri is cleaner. There is an area with better air and bird-houses due to the project promoting tree planting. Through another project, young people are actively advocating for less plastic and more eco bags. Young girls and boys learned how to design a project and implement with small investment. They learned how to pitch their ideas to decision makers, media and businesses.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

UNICEF builds the capacities of youth on the skills and capabilities that are not provided in educational institutions, and thus connects secondary education and training to employment and entrepreneurship. This is done through: -mentors who support groups of vulnerable adolescents -Trains adolescents in project design, project pitching and project management -Ensures increased resilience (sustainable livelihoods, competence, confidence, connection) of youth -Educates on financial management, reporting and other business processes -Trains in methods for business strategy development, modelling and communication -Ensures small funding for projects developed by adolescents -Creates new links between decision makers and engaged adolescents -Gives disadvantaged adolescents 21st century skills and a sense of empowerment Changes communities together with adolescents

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

- project design, project pitching and project management - increased resilience, sustainable livelihoods - financial management, reporting, value chain Quantitative and qualitative indicators are set to measure the skills gained and their applicability, namely number of ventures created and jobs acquired.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Government of Armenia plans to change the educational system in order to have better match with the job market. At this stage there is a huge gap between new graduates and market demand. Most of the youth selects professions with no prior assessment of future job opportunities.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The UPSHIFT model has been piloted in many countries with success. The project was carried out in Armenia in 2019 and 50 young boys and girls designed and implemented a project that changed their community. As a result of UPSHIFT Project most of the participants confirmed their wish to stay in their communities, while most of the youth from distant communities of Armenia see their future in capital city or even abroad. So, UPSHIFT provides skills and capabilities to youth for improved employability and changing their own communities.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Currently UNICEF is looking for funding to implement UPSHIFT in 3 regions of Armenia. Further, engagement models are developed to engage private companies to fund the initiative in communities of their business interest and with industry interest. Long term, UNCIEF advocates to hand over the model to local government of Armenian communities for sustainable funding streams.

10. Team

UPSHIFT program is carried out by professionals in the field of youth empowerment and professional trainers in their fields. The program is managed by deputy country representative. UNICEF has capacity to implement the project in 3 more regions without a need of new recruitment.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • This does not apply to me

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • HBSC page or contact

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