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

Cities as Drivers of Economic Opportunity for Youth: Three Critical Elements of Success

In collaboration and with the support of the Citi Foundation, Making Cents International brought together an expert stakeholder group to discuss challenges and opportunities at the nexus of urbanization and youth economic opportunity development.

Strawberries, Chocolate and Skill Gaps

Originally posted on the World Bank Blog, December 1, 2014.

Economic Opportunities for Rural Youth: Global Trends, Transferrable Lessons Learned, and Actionable Learning

This technical brief on how to effectively evaluate youth economic opportunities programming is developed by Making Cents International’s Collaborative Learning & Action Institute for Increased Youth Economic Opportunities and forms part of our State of the Field in Youth Economic Opportunities technical brief series.
Resource Type: 
Report

USAID Employees Play Integral Role in Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

Originally posted in USAID Office of Education Newsletter (November 2014).

USAID Employees Play Integral Role in Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

Summit Aims to Improve Impact, Scale and Sustainability of Youth Economic Opportunity Programming

Resource Type: 
Article

Concept Note: Cities as Drivers of Economic Opportunity for Youth

In collaboration and with the support of the Citi Foundation, Making Cents International is leading an expert stakeholder discussion on Friday, November 14, 2014 to start to answer these questions and explore new opportunities for partnership, knowledge-building, and greater impact at the nexus of urbanization and youth economic opportunity development.

Resource Type: 
E-Resource