The World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, have announced the winners of their global essay competition on youth unemployment, The Youth Jobs Innovation Challenge. The competition aims to give voice to young people on how to tackle the growing crisis of youth unemployment.  More than 1.2 billion young people will enter the labour market in the next 10 years with only 300 million jobs awaiting them. May Habib was awarded first place for her entry.

The love of language and technology is the drive behind Qordoba, a web-based content creation company based in Dubai but with a presence throughout the world. With an extensive network of freelancers in Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Toronto, New York and beyond, we write and translate just about anything into Arabic and English for our customers, which range from large multinationals to news agencies to software start-ups.

Although I lead a small core team at our headquarters in Dubai, Qordoba really has more than 500 leaders. These leaders are our content creators – mostly young people across the Middle East who are using our online platform to create jobs for themselves.

When we first started Qordoba a year ago, these virtual team members, who grow by the dozens every week, were mere numbers to me. Our fancy algorithms ranked each translator, copywriter or editor based on a set of questions and a test of their abilities and work – here was translator #54, with a quality rank of x and a specialty in y. But it didn’t take long to know everyone by name. And it was at this point that I started realizing that most of our content creators were young, born between 1980 and 1990, and possess the flexibility, collaborative mindset and resourcefulness that will be required to create the hundreds of millions of jobs in this generation, my generation.

With more than 1.2 billion young people expected to enter the labour market over the coming decade – and only 300 million jobs awaiting them – matching employment, entrepreneurship and education prospects with the aspirations of young populations will be more critical than ever. That is why companies like Qordoba will be so important for future job creation.

I like to think of ourselves as building a platform that allows young leaders to earn a great living by plugging their talent into a global marketplace. What we need to globalize talent is the ability to create markets of talent seekers and those with the talent required. The elements that have allowed Qordoba to globalize young talent are actually quite simple:

  1. Access to work space and the Internet
  2. English language skills
  3. Ability to communicate and collaborate with virtual teams

There is no single solution for tackling youth unemployment. But creating the right conditions for young people, especially in the developing world, to create more self-employment opportunities online is a good start. Not everyone who needs a job have the skills and capital required to found a start-up. However, many, like the talented people that I work with, have the skills needed to contribute to a start-up, to their communities and their overall quality of life.

May Habib is the founder of Qordoba and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Find the full version of her essay for the World Economic Forum’s Youth Jobs Innovation Challenge here.