Workforce Development

Overview

Workforce development initiatives build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that youth need to obtain and participate in productive work. Activities in this area strive to bring the private and public sector together to ensure that education improves both the workforce readiness and technical skills necessary for youth to participate in the world of work effectively.

Where are we now?

Workforce development as a field is hard to generalize due to its many different providers, approaches, and target populations, which range from universities educating highly-skilled medical personnel to community organizations providing basic literacy skills to out-of-school youth.  However, increasing global unemployment and events, such as the Arab Spring, have highlighted a common problem of these providers - their services have not kept pace with changes in the private sector, leading to widespread mismatches between skills available and those demanded. Practitioners are responding through a renewed emphasis on collaboration with the private sector to ensure that educational institutions and community organizations are providing demand-driven skills to students, while employers invest in improved on-the-job training to build the skills of new employees quickly and cost-effectively.

Trends and Best Practices

  • Private sector buy-in is critical in developing the programs that link young people to formal employment opportunities. When the private sector is an invested party with donors and social organizations, there is greater possibility for young people to access employment opportunities as they continuously develop their skills and knowledge.
  • Young people and their families are looking for programs that offer practical and hands on opportunities, such as apprenticeships with trade based companies or internships with companies or NGO's. Some programs offer voucher systems that cover the cost of the internships, which have been particularly successful for young women seeking employment in more conservative countries. Participation in workforce development programs often increases when these practical opportunities for relevant skills application are included.
  • Many vocational institutions are not best placed to develop the technical skills of young people given the high rate of change in technology and the challenges for these institutions to keep pace. The private sector, on the other hand, has to keep pace with the market to remain competitive and therefore offers an alternative housing of skills development offerings.
  • Historically, workforce development focused primarily on building technical skills required for a given trade. However, most programs now recognize the importance of incorporating work-readiness skills, including basic literacy, numeracy, and job conduct. If these skills are lacking, it will make their ability to function in the workplace and learn more specialized vocational skills very weak.1
  • Creating employment opportunities is just as important as skills building and should encompass all types of employment – formal, informal, and self-employment. The latter two are particularly important for vulnerable populations, such as women and youth, who may be excluded from formal employment.

 

Workforce Development: Blogs

Why Companies are Investing in the Skill and Potential of Arab Youth

Originally published by International Youth Foundation on February 25, 2015

Telling a New Story of Zimbabwe's Youth

Originally published by International Youth Foundation on February 25, 2015

How Comics are Helping WalMart Prepare 200K Women for Work

Originally published by International Youth Foundation on February 25, 2015

2014 Global Money Week Report

3 million children. 118 countries. Over 2000 activities. 490 organizations.

Global Money Week 2014 saw the world rise to the challenge of Reshaping the Future of Finance

When was it?

Global Money Week is held in the 2nd week of March annually. This year it fell in-between 10th-17th March 2014.

What is it about?

Resource Type: 
Report

Webinar Recording: Leveraging Labor Market Assessment Tools to Address the Youth Unemployment Challenge

USAID’s Workforce Connections (WC) is a program that promotes evidence-based learning and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange with the goal of improving the capacity of USAID and its industry partners to deliver quality workforce development programming. One of WC’s activities has been the creation of labor market assessment (LMA) tools.

Resource Type: 
Presentation

The Future of Youth Employment

The workplace landscape for disadvantaged youth in the United States is more precarious than it has been at any other time in the past eighty years. According to a June 2013 report by the Center for American Progress, 22.5 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 are unemployed, and 1.4 million teens are neither enrolled in school nor working. Young people in general can have a hard time positioning themselves with employers due to age, shortage of experience and maturity, and lack of education and skills. Certain subpopulations face even greater barriers due to factors including race, sex, and socioeconomic status.

Resource Type: 
Report