Critical Factors for successful youth employment solutions

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Youth Employment interventions have an essential role to play both in the lives and happiness of young people but also in national and global economies. 85% of the 1. 8 billion young people alive today live in developing countries and their potential contribution to the societies they live in is immense. However, A third of these young people, the majority of them women, are not in employment, education or training.

Hence, in 2015 Plan International, with support from global consultancy firm Accenture, began a three year programme called Youth Building the Future (YBF), which aims to equip young people in targeted regions in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador with the necessary skills and opportunities to engage in employment and entrepreneurship. YBF is part of Plan International’s Youth Economic Empowerment approach (YEE), operational in over 40 countries to support young people’s transition into decent work. KIT’s role was monitoring and evaluating the programme, and being responsible for applying the knowledge gained from the research successfully.

The purpose of this study was to address the demand for applied research on good practices within youth employment programmes. It does so by providing an overview of the critical factors which must be taken into account if youth employment programming is to foster significant and sustainable development outcomes for the young people taking part in them. KIT was therefore instrumental in developing evidence driven advice that allowed Plan International to support youth employment.

The critical factors are therefore applicable to both types of employment skills training programmes and will help to inform those involved in youth employment programming as well as policy makers, corporations, training institutes and other relevant stakeholders interested in youth employment issues.

The research points to skills training, job placement and mentoring as critical priorities and in the study these factors are organised in accordance with the three main stages of youth employment programming: 1) Exploration and Engagement; 2) Implementation; 3) Sustainability.

Using a mixed-methods approach with an emphasis on qualitative data, the collection and analysis was based on a brief literature review, fieldwork conducted in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador, validation workshops, digital surveys with Brazilian youth and a detailed research project with potential employers.

Data was collected at the end of the first year and halfway through the second year of programme implementation. This allowed the research team to capture some of the changes taking place and the progress made as the programme developed. The research qualifies as ‘applied’ research, as much of the data is based on interviews with practitioners with the aim of actively informing existing and future youth employment programming.

The study presents a number of key critical factors which are necessary for each stage to be successful:

Stage 1: Exploration and Engagement

  • Determination of the target group and level of socio-economic inclusion
  • Labour Market Assessment
  • Engagement with and commitment of partners

Stage 2: Implementation

  • Designing the training of both technical and life skills curricula
  • Exploring internship or apprenticeship opportunities
  • Accessing finance for entrepreneurship programmes
  • Mentoring and other support services

Stage 3: Sustainability

  • Government involvement
  • Demonstrate impact through a monitoring database
  • Invite partners to training and input into curriculum revision
  • Maintain good relationships and clear channels of communications with all partners, before, during and after the completion of the programme.

The report therefore outlines the critical factors that research indicates should be considered in the design, implementation and sustainability of youth employment initiatives. There are no hard and fast solutions but this research does provide some guidelines to be put in place according to local circumstances and the resources available. It is also evident from the research that programmes such as YBF, however well designed and implemented, will only be effective and sustainable with the involvement of the public and private sectors. This report therefore calls on governments and the private sector to come forward and play their part in scaling up interventions for young people’s employment. Evidence suggests that only then will real progress for the economy, and for equality of opportunity, be genuine and sustainable.

Download full report here