When we were in Grade 10, we attended an aid education program in Yanchuan, China. The villages we’ve been to were located deep in the mountains. The suburban geographical location posed drastic challenges to the residents there. Young laborers moved from the village to cities in order to pursue a higher-paid jobs. However, the uncertainties and competition with urban skilled workers were overwhelming. The local teachers told us that many penniless young people returned home due to the difficulties of finding a job. Their lack of competitiveness was resulted from a relatively lower level of education than urban workers and the shortage of their professional skills. What if the rural laborers could be further prepared before competing with others for jobs? If they can choose some careers where they are more advantageous than the urban laborers? They could definitely improve their employment rate and their family life then! Here, ProCareer comes.
What it does
ProCareer helps people with financial crises receive long-term academic education by providing them with career education. After choosing the career path, ProCareer will generate a dynamic to-do list based on their choice. It will be adjusted automatically later according to their learning progress. The to-do list includes online lessons and working opportunities. The lessons will be divided into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and expert. After each level, they could choose to find a job based on their level or keep studying the next level courses.
How we built it
First, we carefully researched and chose four careers with high demand, short-term training period, application in daily life, and sustainable future. Then, we searched for suitable training resources to educate users with professional skills. All the resources will be shown in the to-do list given to the users. In the to-do list, we will add seminars and professional meetings temporarily so users can get chances to communicate with specialties in their chosen careers. After the training, we will link users with potential jobs.
Challenges we ran into
We face several challenges. We need to purchase or cooperate with content producers or schools or the government to get courses. This may lead to dependence and inconsistent quality. Therefore, we need to build stable and reliable cooperation in the first stage. Another challenge is fundraising. Our project relies on a certain amount of funds to start, as we need to obtain course resources and provide monetary motivation to students.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
For low-income students, costs and opportunity costs for long-term academic education are too heavy. Poor students who drop out of school are then told they fail in life and are no longer educated to advance their skills, thereby ending up in low-paid jobs. One accomplishment is that we challenge this stereotype by proving that career education can also empower students to support their lives with skills.
What we learned
As first-year college students, when we learned that only 6.7% of the world's population were college degree-holders according to Harvard and the Asian Development Bank, we were shocked and realized how privileged we were to enjoy so many societal and educational resources. Growing up all in China’s metropolis, we were obsessed by the idea that academic education or four-year college is the only path to a successful life — bachelor’s degree or bust. By doing this project, we realized our world isn’t as perfect as we used to believe and we are so privileged and lucky. We should stand out helping those underserved people, trying to create a more equal society for everyone.
What's next for ProCareer: Channels Education to Jobs
We believe the development of ProCareer will have four steps in the big picture. First, we will start small by examining our software in a rural village named Liuxi in Northwest China. At this point, we are expected to have 50 users. The next stage is cooperating with a rural high school. Beyond the classroom education, they can be educated using ProCareer at the same time. Therefore, those who are in need financially could find a job immediately after graduating from high school. The third step is to promote ProCareer in the whole country. We will cooperate with more schools and distribute advertisements in the cities that are relatively undeveloped.
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