What can business do to help young people acquire the right skills to transition into good jobs?

Unemployment is a global problem, and young people are particularly badly affected.  Youth unemployment rates are twice as high as for older workers.  Around one third of global youth – over 620 million young people - are not in employment, education or training.  This represents an enormous lost opportunity and has serious long-term impacts not only for those young people but also for their societies and economies.  In countries where the population is getting younger there is an even more urgent need to create many more jobs for the growing number of young people needing decent work. It therefore comes as no surprise that accelerating youth employment is identified as a priority within the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Youth unemployment is a complex problem with many underlying causes.  Among them is the widely recognised fact that many young people lack the right skills to help them transition out of education and into a good first job, or onto vocational training courses or further education. Companies wanting to grow into new markets and wishing to recruit locally report that they often struggle to find suitable candidates with the right skills. This skills gap comprises not only hard skills, ranging from basic from numeracy and literacy to specific technical skills; but also so-called soft skills and attributes. For the private sector, a skilled workforce is critical to productivity, innovation and growth.  Estimates suggest that globally up to 38% of employers cannot fill their vacancies due to a lack of the necessary skills.

 

This online discussion will focus on the following questions:

 

  1. What are the 21st century skills young people need to make a successful transition into good jobs? Are young people currently getting these skills? How does the situation differ between developed and developing countries, between cities and rural areas, between young men and young women?
  2. How can companies help young people to get ready for the world of work and to find good jobs? Who should they work with? Can you share examples of successful business-led programmes or innovative cross-sectoral / multi-stakeholder partnerships that help more young people acquire the right skills to find and keep decent work?
  3. How can involving young people in the design and delivery of skills programmes lead to better development solutions?

 

This discussion is part of a Challenge on Youth Employability with the UK’s Department for International Development, Pearson, Anglo American, Citi Foundation, Barclays and BRAC.  The Challenge focuses on what business can do to help more young people find and keep decent work by helping them develop the necessary skills to transition successfully into good jobs. Drawing on the experience of Challenge Supporters and the Business Fights Poverty community, we are developing a guide for business and those wanting to work with business that will gather together key ingredients for a successful private sector approach to youth skills development.    This online discussion will inform the development of the guide. 

 

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Young people should certainly be involved in the design stages of skills programmes, just as with any needs assessment. I think where it gets interesting is in the delivery. Provided the skills that they’re being trained in are tailored, then there is often an opportunity to solve other development issues whilst at the same time capacity-building with the young people.

 

At Raleigh International, we have a couple of examples of this. Our Youth Entrepreneurs in Sanitation project involves youth entrepreneurs being trained in the provision of sanitation solutions. At the same time we create market demand (which they supply) by creating awareness and education for sanitation in communities. It therefore not only solves a livelihood problem for young people but a WASH one for the whole community.

 

We also have a similar project in Tanzania with partner SHIPO and water filter businesses.

Involving us this way leads to better development solutions due to the following reasons. We are innovative, programs happen to be realistic and we feel a sense of ownership in programs.

 

We are innovative in the sense that we have energy to think for better ideas and implement programs. It is easy for us to adopt to changes in conditions, we can think and implement fast. This is because we do not have as much obligations to take care of as the aged. The Youth Think Tank is a pretty good exhibit. We were involved in design and delivery of this research program. Within our successive physical meetings, we were able to design implementation phases of the program. Our training convening involved designing how to collect data with respect to the realities of places we are from. This allowed for a quick-and effective- data collection phase of the project. For the first-time Tanzania’s government, has elected Dar es Salaam regional commissioner who is a young person. Shortly in office, we see better environment solutions. Solutions such as one tree campaign for every household and establishment of iron posts with chains to avoid trespassing have strong implications to curb climate change.

 

Programs will be realistic in the sense that they will reflect our voices. Our voices bring our experiences to life! With the reality of these experiences, these program’s contents will be spot on and holistic. In this case designs will be “youth centered”. Being youth centered makes young people and the community at large happy, a situation meaningful for sustainability. Restless Development’s programs are a good example. They engage young people meaningfully in their programs.

 

We feel ownership of programs since we have been involved from scratch. Since we can trace the origins of program decisions it is easy to implement them to scale. This implementation is enhanced by peer to peer interaction which is youth friendly. The importance of ownership helps implementing and beneficiary young people build trust in programs. Implementing young people become confident in the programs while beneficiary young people appreciate program effectiveness since they address real life situations they face.

That brings us to the end of the live section of this discussion. Thank you so much to all our panellists for generously sharing their time and insights.

And thank you to everyone from the Business Fights Poverty community who joined in - we appreciate your support for this Challenge and your sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

You can continue post your comments here; please do include links to reports and other materials that you think might add to our exploration of what works.  

 

We will be running a number of other events and activities as part of this BFP Challenge on Youth Employability.  If you’d like to stay up to date with our activities and haven’t already joined the Challenge, you can do so here.

 

Thanks again everyone! 

That is a great observation Ndungu!

Ndungu Kahihu said:


One limitation that all these successful initiatives (including CAP YEI) and models face is that there are small scale. With over 200 million youth across our continent desperately needing jobs, small pilots will not do it. What we need are organisations or countries willing to scale up such programs and sharing their experience with the rest. I understand Rwanda has started in this direction and the country is small enough and centrally led that it will probably be quickly successful and maybe even avoid the political challenges that kill similar efforts in biggest countries. We need more Rwandas. 


Augustine Malija said:

 

Can you share examples of successful business-led programmes or innovative cross-sectoral / multi-stakeholder partnerships that help more young people acquire the right skills to find and keep decent work?

 

The Equity Group Foundation’s Wings to Fly program. It offers high school scholarships and mentoring sessions for students applying to financial aid and scholarships abroad. I happened to be one of this programs beneficiaries in Tanzania. Ours was called College Counselling program under Equity Bank Tanzania. We were guided throughout the process. I should admit that it improved my writing ability.

 

Deloitte Tanzania partnered with AIESEC in the University of Dar es Salaam for a sustainable skill development project. It does a series of trainings to sophomore and final year students starting from this March. It so far has benefited 10 final year students where eight of them got jobs and two are doing internships. This is a profound example of a company partnering with youth (AIESEC).

 

Another example comes from west Africa. Prior to Ashesi University’s design of its engineering curriculum, it had consultations with corporate Ghana. This helped them to know what specific skills should they deliver to its prospective students.

Thank you for your time as well. Here is the link to the Youth Think Tank Report www.mastercardfdn.org/youth-think-tank-report-2015-2016/

Hester le Roux said:

That brings us to the end of the live section of this discussion. Thank you so much to all our panellists for generously sharing their time and insights.

And thank you to everyone from the Business Fights Poverty community who joined in - we appreciate your support for this Challenge and your sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

You can continue post your comments here; please do include links to reports and other materials that you think might add to our exploration of what works.  

 

We will be running a number of other events and activities as part of this BFP Challenge on Youth Employability.  If you’d like to stay up to date with our activities and haven’t already joined the Challenge, you can do so here.

 

Thanks again everyone! 

Participatory approaches in designing and bottom up planning have always proved to be successful in any development intervention. But this is a challenging if structures and systems are centralized, which is still very much the case in Bangladesh. 
BRAC's programmes has outreach to village level and has management mechanisms in place accordingly. There is a strong focus on innovations and knowledge management where the voice of our participants is important. Programs are designed through demand analysis and continuous learning takes place through well-established M&E system. Monthly discussions take place at field level and the learning are used for improvement.
Besides the demand surveys, we take feedback from our learners and also from our graduates who are now employed on how we can improve the training programme e.g. the need to introduce the trendy softwares alongside hardware in ICT training, to keep pace with trends in changes of tools and equipments, the need to provide loan packages for start ups etc.We are continuously working to improve this aspect of our work.

It is interesting that you say that some of the success stories only benefited a few of the group members. Did DfID encourage group formation and if so what criteria were used? It is also interesting to note that it was the best and brightest that self selected into these support services. This suggests a challenge with identifying the most suitable participants. How were the participants selected and what criteria was used? From experience many local NGO's want to support the 'poorest' individuals whereas these may not benefit the most. What are you thoughts about this? When will the report be published as I think it could be a useful resource?

Richard Sandall said:

These were grants used to purchase business start up materials typically for rural livelihood activities - knitting machines , construction tools etc.  The VSO volunteer certainly identified one of the risks involved - another is that the presence of equipment does not solve all the other underlying challenges facing a new business in a poor area.  There were success stories, but often only benefitting a few group members.  We have a project review that getting finalised at the moment.  It suggests better returns from business mentoring rather than start up kits - but this is complicated by the fact that it was the best and birghtest that self selected into these support services. 
 
Alan Large said:

Thanks for your response Richard. What do you mean by 'business kits'? Did you provide access to Micro-credit to enable the new businesses to become established? I met with a VSO volunteer in 2014 who was working on the project and one of his concerns was overloading the market with so many recently trained 'artisans'. What evidence do you have that many of the businesses were successfully started, remain in business, and the impact of the intervention?

Richard Sandall said:


Hi Alan, there was a range of support. In one project (implemented bty VSO) they provided start up business kits to groups of youth who submitted winning business plans.  The challenge sometimes was the grant size wasn't big enough to support all the members of the groups, and the numbers dropped off.  In another component (implemented by Youth Business International), business mentoring and business advice services were provided post training - these had a strong effect for those self selecting into the post training support.


Alan Large said:

Hi Richard, I work for Tools for Self Reliance, a UK NGO which supports vocational training in Uganda (and other countries) local NGO's to provide business and vocational training to unemployed youth and other vulnerable groups. As a part of this we also provide refurbished tools so that the participants can set up a small business post training. What support post-training support did DfID provide? 



Richard Sandall said:

I am Richard Sandall, Private Sector Development Adviser in DFID Uganda.  I’ve been with DFID 9 years, and in Uganda 3 years.  As PSD Adviser I am responsible for designing and managing projects that are linked to business growth.  In Uganda I oversee an agribusiness project, and recently finished a £10.5 million project in the poorer Northern region of Uganda that saw 30,000 people trained in business and vocational skills.

My name is Shupi Kayela Mweene. I am a Consultant under the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBiDF) housed under the African Management Services Company (AMSCO) in Lusaka and financed by SIDA. We broker cross sector partnerships around development challenges with the main view of bring business into development to achieve shared value.

I am in charge of fostering partnerships in the skills development area. In Zambia, we have similar challenges as described by most if not all the respondents to this discussion. We have both underemployment of the youths and unemployment. We also have a private sector that is not very involved in skills development. In trying to encourage this, we have formed a cross sector partnership called National Skills Development Partnership involving Ministries of Higher Education, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the training regulator TEVETA. We also have the private sector represented by Zambia Federation of Employers and we have NGOs i.e. Youth Bridge Foundation and World Skills Zambia. We also have the International Labour Organisation. All the partners agreed to work together by signing an MOU, albeit, not legally binding. To kick start the collaboration, it has been decided that we first start by looking at policy and regulatory issues that impede private sector from participating in skills development. We have an old Apprenticeship Act which was enacted in 199/70. This needs to be relooked at so that we have make it relevant to the circumstances prevailing today and make if clear for private sector to participate.

I am happy with all the rich contributions to this topic and I look forward to learning more. I will sending emails and calls to individuals so that we can learn more and replicate most of the examples that have been shared of what is working in other countries. 

Good comments Sahr. I am curious, can you elaborate on your comment that business appear to see young people as a burden? Would be nice if you bring in lived experiences.

M. Sahr Nouwah said:

What can business do to help young people acquire the rights skills to transition into good jobs

 Youth employment benefits business in a manner that needs to capture the attention of businesses.  Young people are part of what I call business growth. The young talents have the ambition, creativity and the endurance to work long hours as well as days to make production greater and enjoyable for consumers.

So, for businesses to help young people acquire the right skills to transition into good jobs or for me, I will say future needed jobs, there are series of measures that need to be in place.

-          Businesses must understand that young people  are not a burden

-          That each support provided pays off in the profits they make out of the young talent creativity

-          Business must endeavour to invest in university programs that built young talents

-          Businesses must develop career development programs that train ambitious, talented and willing young men and women to excel

-          Businesses must work with volunteers programs to identify talents

-          Businesses must work with career development institutions to channel the way for open business initiatives that do not teach young people only money but ethics and human rights

-          Human Resource managers must sit annually with young employees for frank discussions. This will allow them know what the young employee sees ahead. ( in many instances, especially in poor nations, young people take certain jobs based on the principle of survival, to keep this young talent focus, you need to discuss with them and help them reshape what they want)

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