The schooling system is broken, and the world realises this. But it has been slow to change the teaching style that has been practised for centuries. Leaving students unprepared and unequipped with skills and tools to enter professional lives.
On the other hand, corporations and governments are struggling with finding skilled employees, and market insights to drive their future growth.“Companies and governments around the world are highlighting the fact that what matters in their potential hires are not the degrees, but the skills they have and the value they can add. Building these skills cannot be achieved through theoretical learning and cannot be learned separately from educational programs,” says Ibrahim Naji, Founder of RealEdu, a Sweden-based startup that is plugging the gap, and revolutionising the system—bringing students, schools, companies and governments together to offer value to each other.
“We believe that developing skills is not the sole responsibility of schools. It needs to be done in collaboration with the industry because the industry's demand is what shapes the skills that will be key in students’ future employability. We make these skills teachable and practical, and embed them as an integral part of school curriculums.”Ibrahim Naji, Founder of RealEDU
All this happens through RealEDU’s digital platform, which Naji built together with Google Launchpad, Google’s innovation department in 2016. He was later joined by his co-founder, Mohamed Amine Belarbi, who brought a strategic and business savvy methodology to the business.
RealEDU offers a multi-level solution that is not just about students, but also corporates and governments. So while it does address student’s lack of real-world problem-solving skills and experience to confidently enter the professional sphere; it also answers companies’ PR, HR and R&D issues.
How it works
Companies and government pay a certain amount to develop new project challenges and distribute them to universities they want to target in the region. It saves them thousands of dollars they would otherwise pay to management consultancies, while getting hundreds of solutions from the workforce and target audience of tomorrow—the students.
“Universities get to use our platform together with all the perks and speakers - free of charge.”
Universities are understanding this gap wherein they need to expose students to professional level projects, and give them the experience with which they can go get a job. Currently, the faculty members approach companies and ask them to give projects to the students, free of charge. However, the issue arises when companies do not have the resources to invest in developing a proper challenge.
Even when they do give the projects to the students, there is often lack of enough information and unanswered questions, hindering the quality of solutions offered. Moreover, the undefined system does not provide recognised assets to students who do a good job.
RealEDU answers this issue by providing “a very comprehensive content for projects including interviews, videos, articles and all kind of information that gives [students] an in-depth understanding of the challenge in the industry.”
“We're solving the issues by introducing the world to the classroom, allowing industries, industry leaders and governments to collaborate directly with the students; allowing the current and future consumers to directly present primary market insights to those who can implement them."
Benefits to students
The biggest problem today is that students never get to apply and use their knowledge. They get stuck behind textbooks, learning theoretical concepts; and when they go into the workforce, they have no idea of how to use them.
“So instead of solving theoretical and nonexistent problems as we have done for centuries, students are now encouraged and empowered to solve real challenges that our society is facing. They get to solve real challenges that real companies and governments are facing. And the best part is that we offer students internships, recommendation letters, scholarships, and professional certificates after each and every challenge they solve — without ever having to leave the classroom,” explains Naji.
“RealEDU complements students’ theoretical and academic knowledge with practical experiences and exercises, in order teach students how to use and apply their knowledge in the real world - to have a real impact.”
Benefits to corporates and governments
Naji indicates why some of the biggest companies in the world that have tanked over the past years: it is because there is a “massive disconnect between what consumers want, and what businesses are delivering.” ToysRUs, Blockbuster, General Motors, and the many fashion brands closing down stores are prime examples of this gapping distance between the real future market demands and what companies think they are.
If you want the market and consumer insights, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, if you want to analyse trends, you don't hire 40-year consultants. You tap into the people that are tapped into today's society—students.Ibrahim Naji, Founder of RealEDU
“These companies tank because they don't have enough consumer market inside, they have no idea what the future consumers want, or what they feel, or how they think. So we've created an avenue for both companies and governments to tap into the people that are an integral part of today's market. So really, it's a three-piece solution for companies.”
Instead of hiring a traditional consulting company that will do exactly the same thing, for a very, very high fee, what we do is that we come into the picture and provided a kind of a package solution. So it's a PR solution. It's an HR solution. And it's an R&D solution.Ibrahim Naji, Founder of RealEDU
RealEDU helps companies advertise themselves to their future audience; interacting and providing value to the next generation of the workforce. This is the core PR solution that is as good as it gets, as the students know more about the company than they would have otherwise. Plus, it is a sure solution as the corporates know they are reaching a particular number of students for the duration of the period, which is approximately two months.
In addition, companies can leverage this exercise as part of social responsibility initiatives, amping up their image and reputation in the market through PR.This then adds to an HR solution, whereby not only will the future candidates know more about the company, but also have a connection and passion for it. Plus, corporates can hire the ones in universities who have done good projects for them, cutting down costs by bringing the two closer together.
Corporates need to go beyond theoretical performances, grades or biased recommendation letters when recruiting; a majority of the HR firms do just this as it has become a standard practice. This needs to change if corporates want to drive future growth. They need to incorporate what Naji calls “Performance Based Recruiting” into their core HR practice. RealEDU’s platform allows corporates and governments to do just that — recruit talent “based on their ability to solve particular challenges and problems specific to the organisation.
Naturally, R&D is one of the core solutions, as 500-1000 different solutions are presented for every challenge.
Plans for the futureRealEDU has been selected in the upcoming Dubai Future Accelerators cohort, due to begin this month. Currently based in Sweden, they are planning to expand to the Middle East by setting up in Dubai. Naji reveals that they are already in talks with universities across the UAE, and see themselves launching the platform come next semester.
Divulging additional details, Naji says they plan to “create a similar platform for the government specifically, [in order] to connect university students with different governmental challenges.”Bringing this platform, that has seen much success in Sweden, to the UAE, will boost student employability and solve the issues many corporates face today. Developing talent and skills in universities will not only improve the talent pool, but also cut down on expenses many corporates bear to recruit from abroad.By bridging the gap between students and corporates through a smart solution, RealEDU is revolutionising the broken education system that is increasingly posing problems in the real world. We hope to see this platform grow to its full potential, and become a core part of the education system around the world.