Lesvos, a beautiful island right off the coast of Greece and Turkey, that has been hit hard by the refugee crisis. It is home to two refugee camps: RIC Lesvos (home to 13,000 refugees) and Kara Tepe Hospitality Center (home to 1,200 refugees). Our team visited the island twice in the past year.
During these visits, we listened as refugee teenagers, youth, and young adults shared their harrowing journeys and their current lives with us. The one commonality in everyone’s stories--the one thing getting them through the hell of the camps was knowing that there was a possibility of a better life on the other side of this. The key lynchpin of that “better life” is securing employment. Finding a future job was at the center of everyone’s future goals.
Although many of the refugees we met had left behind school programs, 95% of the youth we talked to told us they were more interested in learning skills that would help them get a job rather than finishing or continuing formal schooling. They viewed practical, vocational skills as the highest learning priority, because those skills were transferable to the workforce.
Reconnecting a Year Later
Now connecting with many of our refugee friends after resettlement, we understand why they were so focused on employable skills. Getting a job after resettling was extremely difficult. With minimal help from the government and little understanding of this new country, refugees were aching to finally be independent and in charge of their own life---a job is a part of that.
How could we support our refugee friends in their mission to find employment in this new country?
Limited space in government classes combined with the language barrier makes government classes inaccessible to a huge majority of resettled refugees. Existing ed-tech app’s high subscription fees, lack of offline access, and lack of relevant topics to refugees make them inaccessible to our user group. Our team felt that there had to be a better way.
That better way became Key. Key is an SMS-based platform that empowers refugee students through skills-based learning. Key focuses on skills that directly reflect job shortages in the economy in order to make sure our benefit is two-fold --for refugees and governments. Our ultimate vision is to go a step further than reskilling. We also hope to place refugees with partner employers.