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.
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.
By International Labour Organization, May 8, 2013
The weakening of the global recovery in 2012 and 2013 has further aggravated the youth jobs crisis and the queues for available jobs have become longer and longer for some unfortunate young jobseekers. So long, in fact, that many youth are giving up on the job search. The prolonged jobs crisis also forces the current generation of youth to be less selective about the type of job they are prepared to accept, a tendency that was already evident before the crisis.
Making Cents International wishes to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of organizations and individuals that contributed to building the 2012 learning program by participating as sponsors, Global Advisory Committee members, contributors to the global consultation, presenters, session reporters, volunteers, exhibitors, interns, and vendors. This publication is the result of a yearlong — and more broadly, a six-year — collaboration with partners that work to increase and improve economic opportunities for young people around the world.
The Global Youth Economic Opportunities (YEO) field unites practitioners, policymakers, private sector companies, funders, researchers, educators, and young people who are tackling one of the most pressing issues of our time: how to increase and improve economic opportunities for youth. The lack of economic opportunities for young people impacts families, destabilizes communities, stalls economies, and undermines the aspirations of a whole generation.
By Premand, Patrick; Brodmann, Stefanie; Almedia, Rita; Grun, Rebekka and Mahdi Barouni from World Bank, 2012
In economies characterized by low labor demand and high rates of youth unemployment such as the Middle East and North Africa, entrepreneurship training delivered in school has the potential to enable youth to create their own jobs. This paper presents experimental evidence on a new entrepreneurship track that provides business training and personalized coaching to university students in Tunisia. Undergraduates in the final year of licence appliquée were given the opportunity to graduate with a business plan instead of following the standard curriculum. We rely on randomized assignment of the entrepreneurship track among applicants and identify impacts on labor market outcomes one year after graduation. We find that the entrepreneurship track was effective in increasing self-employment, but that the effects are small in absolute terms. In addition, the employment rate among beneficiaries remains unchanged, pointing to a substitution from wage employment to self-employment.
By Hempel, Kevin and Nathan Fiala from Global Partnership for Youth Employment, 2012
This Guide helps decide what type of evaluation is appropriate given the characteristics and context of an intervention and provides the basic set of concepts and tools to carry out impact evaluations.
By IRC, May 10, 2013 10:42am
International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Making Cents International
May 9, 2013 (12:30pm to 02:00pm)
Explore Making Cents and how it can contribute to IFC’s strategies for addressing employment and entrepreneurship.
Discuss principles for integrating youth into economic growth programming and financial inclusion.
Learn how Making Cents is approaching the issue of rural youth unemployment in MENA.
By Blattman, Christopher; Fiala, Nathan; and Sebastian Martinez from Innovations for Poverty Action, Dec, 2011
Can cash transfers promote employment and reduce poverty in rural Africa? Will lower youth unemployment and poverty reduce the risk of social instability? This assessment experimentally evaluates one of Uganda’s largest development programs, which provided thousands of young people nearly unconditional, unsupervised cash transfers to pay for vocational training, tools, and business start-up costs. Mid-term results after two years suggest four main findings. First, despite a lack of central monitoring and accountability, most youth invest the transfer in vocational skills and tools.
By Laura Meissner from The SEEP Network, Save the Children, USAID, 2009
This case study examines the challenges that Save the Children and Fondation Zakoura Micro-Crédit (Zakoura) faced in implementing a USAID-funded financial services program for youth. It examines the institutional, local market, and programmatic difficulties encountered.
From 2006–2009, Save the Children and Zakoura partnered to implement a youth financial services and livelihoods promotion project called Linking Youth with Knowledge and Opportunities in Microfinance (LYKOM). The program included financial and business literacy training, savings promotion, and access to credit for youth businesses. LYKOM faced many program level challenges in areas such as human resources, institutional frustrations, partnership, communication, and the enabling environment. Lessons learned about youth financial services include:
Entrepreneurship training is important for many, but not all youth;
Young people need support in developing realistic goals and growth plans;
Family engagement is critical;
MFIs may need to adjust staffing structures to effectively provide youth services;
Young people need more than an MFI can provide.
By Paul Bennell from IFAD, Dec, 2010
This paper reviews the situation of rural youth in developing countries and presents options for improving their livelihoods in the face of the many growing challenges they face. The main geographical focus is sub-Saharan Africa and the Near East and North Africa.