In the Theory of Change series, we break down Giant Leap’s impact thesis for each investment: how we think they’re blazing trails in tackling our most pressing problems. Check out our Starter Guide to Theory of Change for more context.
HEX (formerly known as The Hacker Exchange) is an education platform that provides alternative education pathways for high school leavers, preparing them for in-demand innovation and startup careers.
The main problem they solve is pathways to meaningful employment for youths. This is crucial because lack of employment greatly increases risk of poor physical and mental health while decreasing social participation. For this reason, the World Economic Forum ranked digital inequality and youth disillusionment as top neglected risks that could destroy hard fought societal wins of the last decade.
Thankfully, HEX is on the case, as illustrated by their overall mission statement:
“HEX exists to empower the next generation of new economy leaders and raise the exponential intelligence of the global workforce. We're doing this through our digital, uni-accredited 'innovation gap year' and intensive programs, which allow diverse students to explore non-traditional career pathways and develop future-ready skills.”
Let’s break down our impact thesis for HEX.
COVID-19 rocked the education and early work system, exacerbating the risk of youths falling through the cracks.
As the pandemic struck Down Under in June 2020, the rate of Australian young people not in employment, education, or training (NEETs) aged 15–24 in jumped to 16%, an increase from 12% in 2019, and the highest rate since 1997. This shock was global, with overall youth employment dropping by 8.7% compared to 3.7% for adults.
While the rate of NEETs have since improved, we’re facing down the pandemic hangover of government spending driving inflation and uncertain futures. Now more than ever we need support pathways for our young’uns.
HEX provides flexible career pathways and scholarships for young people that may not be able to afford or are disinterested by the traditional university pathways.
A big part of the problem is that education has failed to keep up with modern needs.
Illustrating this, 43% of Australians feel that the education system is not preparing kids for the future of work. Another survey by JICS, a UK-based consultancy, found that just 28% of UK students felt that they weren’t supported to develop basic IT skills.
Meanwhile, industry recognised tertiary education is getting more expensive while delivering increasingly outdated quals. In 2018, Ernst & Young reported that 40% of current Australian degrees offered would soon be obsolete, despite private tertiary education spend doubling in the last 30 years.
HEX provides practical digital skills that are recognised by universities and employers, and trains students in the mindsets, skill sets and toolsets relevant to modern day job descriptions.
The traditional education system has served groups with privileged access and left other groups in the dust. The evidence is all around us, with unacceptable leadership gaps for gender and cultural diversity alike. Part of the problem is ensuring equal access to the best education, affordably.
HEX’s cohorts are incredibly diverse and accessible - thanks to a range of inclusive pricing options and scholarship supported places - building up a more equal generation of students entering the workforce with leadership skills. Data from recent cohorts reported a breakdown of 48% females in cohorts while 1% are non-binary, while their most recent cohort featuring 61% students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Giant Leap’s Theory of Change for our investment in HEX
If Giant Leap supports HEX with values-aligned capital, then HEX will be able to deliver future-focussed, industry recognised learning to more diverse groups of pre-university students and ultimately unlock career pathways that will improve independence, wellbeing, and diverse representation in leadership over the course of their lives.
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