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 inspire a generation of farming entrepreneurs: A new report outlines how Africa's youth can find employment in agriculture without getting their hands dirty

When we talk about African development, there is a belief that its booming population can only equal crisis. By 2040, Africa's workforce could be one billion strong, so finding jobs for this young population should be at the forefront of government agenda. This challenge is coupled with Africa's increasing demand for varied and nutritious foods.

Resource Type: 
Article

Strengthening Recovery in Central and Eastern Europe

This Regular Economic Report (RER) is a semiannual publication of the Europe and Central Asia Region, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Department (ECA PREM), The World Bank. It covers economic developments, prospects, and policies in 11 European Union (EU) member states that joined after 2004 (excluding Cyprus and Malta) — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (North); the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic, (Continental); and Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia (South). Throughout the RER, for simplicity, we refer to this group of eleven countries as the EU11.

Resource Type: 
Report

Kiva at Four

This essay is a sequel to the case titled “Kiva and the Birth of Person-to-Person Microfinance,” published by the author in Innovations (Winter/Spring 2007). Started by the author, Jessica Jackley Flannery and Moses Onyango in 2005, Kiva is an online lending platform that allows individuals in the developed world to loan to small businesspeople in the developing world. Kiva operates in the microfinance space and works with a growing network of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in more than 40 countries.

Resource Type: 
Report