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

The Key to Growth & Progress in Latin America: Young Entrepreneurs

Back in the 90’s, a vast majority of parents and guardians in Latin America would look down on their children if they decided to opt to become an entrepreneur instead of pursuing a career or enrolling in a University. They would think that their children had a lack of motivation for studying or they were simply not smart enough or too lazy to complete a degree.

Skills for Youth Employment: How and for Whom?

R4D recently hosted a panel discussion about the skills that students in developing countries need to excel in the labor market, along with innovative models for delivering those skills at the secondary level. The conversation covered macro issues (for instance, how to scale, how to engage policymakers, how to move successful pilots into the hands of local governments) and the precise skills that youth should acquire to meet the needs of employers.

When the First Rung Is Too High

The young man at the Apple Genius Bar asked me what kind of work I did while he was trying to fix my laptop last week. I told him, “I work on creating good jobs and higher skills in developing countries.” I also told him that 87% of the planet’s 1.2 billion 16-24 year olds live in developing countries where there are few good jobs and where the education and training systems are often completely out of synch with the needs of modern economies. He appeared interested, so I continued: “3 out of 5 of all the unemployed in sub-Saharan Africa are youth people living on less than $2/day.

How to Integrate Mobile Solutions into Development Projects

FHI 360 and OpenRevolution, with funding and support from USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia through the mSTAR project, have launched the “Integrating Mobiles into Development Projects” handbook to address the over-excited, under-planned side of M4D deployment.

Resource Type: 
Toolkit

Youth, Technology & Economic Opportunities - Lessons Learned and Actionable Guidance

The technical brief on Technology, Youth & Economic Opportunities shares global trends and innovations that highlight technology’s potential for moving the needle on youth employment worldwide. Learn how diverse technology-based tools and organizations are leading to more jobs and business prospects for young people, and how various actors can increase the range and quality of economic opportunities for youth through their funding, research, and ingenuity. It has been developed by Making Cents International’s Collaborative Learning & Action Institute for Increased Youth Economic Opportunities (CoLab) and forms part of our 2014 State of the Field in Youth Economic Opportunities Technical Brief Series.

Resource Type: 
Report

Scaling Up—From Vision to Large‐Scale Change: A Management Framework for Practitioners

This document is intended to be a companion document to the Scaling Up TOOLKIT. With support from the MacArthur Foundation and the Packard Foundation, both documents were developed, applied, and refined over a nine year period with twenty‐two projects in India, Mexico, and Nigeria. An earlier version of this document was published in March of 2006.

Resource Type: 
Report