Bridging the gap between higher education and rapidly changing labor markets


  • Nancy Chervin Education Development Center
  • Helene Cyr Education Development Center
  • Nora Nunn Education Development Center
  • Tania Tzelnic Education Development Center


In a rapidly changing economic context, students across the globe graduate from  post-secondary institutions lacking the skills needed to transition into a evolving labor market. In many countries, post-secondary education focuses on theory and is divorced from market realities. This chapter will provide insights on how educational institutions and systems can respond to demands of employers, instructors, and students, resulting in better employment and entrepreneurship outcomes. It will examine three innovative interventions:

  • Bringing industry into the classroom to work directly with youth (Indonesia and Thailand);
  • Supporting instructor professional development to introduce project-based activities that promote work-readiness and technical skills (SE Asia); and
  • Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset and career ownership in recent university graduates, while up-skilling and re-training them for opportunities in high growth industries (Senegal).

We will identify how these strategies are fully owned and sustained by local institutions, and analyze their impact in successfully addressing the skills gaps.


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Author Biographies

Nancy Chervin, Education Development Center

Nancy Chervin is a youth and workforce advisor at Education Development Center specializing in international work readiness skills training and work-based learning. She works to develop skills in youth so they are more employable and increase their livelihoods. She focuses on preparing youth for quickly changing workplaces through skills development and connecting educational institutions with employers. She has expertise in instructor professional development, online learning and instructional coaching.  Instructional design experience includes employability skills and learner-centred teaching approaches such as project-based learning. Her work spans both non-formal and formal educational systems, and includes EDC’s flagship Work Ready Now program and the MekongSkills2Work network.

Her program design and implementation experience spans over 15 countries including Ethiopia, Guyana, Jordan, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, and Senegal. She holds a MA in international education from George Washington University.

Helene Cyr, Education Development Center

Helene Cyr is a Canadian with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal, as well as a master's degree in business administration from INSEAD in France. She has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector, as a consultant to companies such as McKinsey and Company and Egon Zehnder International, as well as as a senior executive in multinational companies such as Bombardier and CAE.

Since 2009, Helene has refocused her career on social and economic development. She has focused her efforts on supporting Rwanda's socio-economic development as a strategic advisor to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), an international youth development advisor in Rwanda and Senegal for the Education Development Center (EDC), and several other mandates with the Mastercard Foundation, and Swiss Contact. All her efforts are focused on creating jobs for young people. Hélène is co-owner of two high schools (TVET and general education) in Rwanda, welcoming around 1,000 youth each year.

Nora Nunn, Education Development Center

Nora Nunn is an international technical associate at Education Development Center (EDC). Informed by
her experience as an educator for the French Ministry of Education in Martinique, the U.S. Peace Corps
in Rwanda, and Duke University in the United States, she specializes in supporting learners in both
nonformal and formal educational systems. Within the university context, she has designed
interdisciplinary curricula and led data analytics projects building on her area of academic research:
human rights. She holds a PhD in English from Duke University. Email:

Tania Tzelnic, Education Development Center

Tania Tzelnic, associate project director at Education Development Center, is an expert in youth development, workforce development, and work-based learning. Drawing on her strong background in project design, project management, and user-experience/design thinking, she leads and advances innovative initiatives to prepare youth for the rapidly changing global digital economy. She specializes in economic opportunities mapping, labor market assessments, needs assessments, and engaging industry leaders in partnering with schools to close opportunity gaps for young people.

Ms. Tzelnic has significant experience fostering entrepreneurship. She co-leads project management and provides technical assistance for the Huguka Dukore Akazi Kanoze and Accelerating Work Achievement and Readiness for Employment 2 projects. She also manages EDC innovation challenges and bootcamps, including President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leader’s Initiative World of Food Innovation Challenge.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Tzelnic was a researcher and scientist. She has published articles in Scientific American, Developmental Psychology, and Cognition.  She an MA in International Relations, with a focus on International Finance, from Boston University and an MA in Cognitive Development from Queen’s University.



How to Cite

Chervin, N., Cyr, H. ., Nunn, N., & Tzelnic, T. (2021). Bridging the gap between higher education and rapidly changing labor markets . STAR Scholar Books. Retrieved from