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Barton spoke alongside billionaire Aliko Dangote, president and CEO of Nigeria-based conglomerate Dangote Group.
Dangote said that some modes of education were outdated, and graduates have seen their jobs supplanted by advances in technology. The solution, he said, is to increase vocational and technical training and entrepreneurship.
Dangote added later that youth unemployment could cause destruction if not addressed, citing the "Arab Spring" revolutions in North Africa that toppled several governments as an example.
"We need to attack this issue on all fronts," Dangote said. "There are going to be a lot of reforms. The government, private sector and civil society need to sit down and take this more seriously than just 'talk shop.'"
Barton agreed that more training was important, especially short term programs.
"We have too much of an aggregated system. Why should it take two years to be able to learn something? Why can't I break that down?" Barton asked.
He cited online video training and intensive day-long coding workshops as examples in education innovation for specific skills.
"Once you can get in the system and build a base you can go from there. But you've got to get people in," Barton said.