Countries with the lowest youth unemployment rates have one thing in common: a close connection between education and work. In order to foster high employment, employers, governments, and educators need to partner to ensure education systems map to employers’ needs (e.g., specific technical skills and soft skills). Specifically, employers need to take a leadership role in defining curricula so educators know what skills are required for the job market, and governments need to fully or partially fund training provided by employers as well as scale-up and share learnings across the ecosystem. 

Students would benefit from this partnership by having a curriculum that teaches the right skills for the jobs that are available and one that also keeps pace with quickly evolving job requirements. Also, with employers involved in the teaching process, students would have access to entrepreneurial mentors and role models to start building their professional networks. Lastly, students would have inside information about job opportunities, what different sectors are looking for, and how those sectors assess skills, which would increase students' odds of getting a job.

On the other hand, employers would also benefit from these partnerships. By being involved in the education and training process, employers would get a better sense of the available talent, which would help them find prospective employees more efficiently. 

Case study: Knod, a global learning network, and Kepler Kigali, a university program designed for the developing world, are leaders in developing employer-centric partnership models. What makes Knod successful is that it integrates employers into the teaching process. Students spend every term working on a project with a different employer, and each project has learning objectives that are tied to their three-year degree curriculum.

Kepler Kigali has students participate in work-study programs so they feel as comfortable and skilled at work as they do in the classroom. Employers are heavily invested in crafting these work-study placements. Since students perform real work for the company, employers are incentivized to help students develop relevant skills in order to succeed. Students graduate after three years with a degree from an accredited university (since all the projects are mapped to the university’s curriculum), as well as three years of project experience across different industries.