Published on Jobs and Development

Five insights from S4YE’s regional youth employment forum in Ethiopia

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Public primary school in Dar es Salaam, Photo: Sarah Farhat / World Bank Public primary school in Dar es Salaam, Photo: Sarah Farhat / World Bank

Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) focuses on curating and learning from innovations in youth employment programs. Its inaugural Regional Youth Employment Forum marked the first time a network of partners focused on youth employment came together to use project insights as design inputs for a planned project: the upcoming World Bank Ethiopia Urban Safety Net and Jobs Project.

The Forum brought together more than 170 participants from S4YE’s network of partners, governments and the private sector to convene the newly expanded S4YE ‘Impact Portfolio’—an external community of practice that includes 44 youth employment projects.

The Forum illuminated several interesting design ideas. Here are five of them.

1. Integrating Mindfulness Training & Constructive Conflict in Youth Employment Programs

It might seem unlikely, but youth in fragile and conflict zones are learning to become effective coders and earning 13 times the average salary of their countries. In Jordan, RBK’s new form of education technology, eXtreme Learning(XL), rapidly moves youth from poverty to prosperity.

RBK’s coding camp combines traditional methods into a pedagogy that blends problem-based learning, fail-based learning, collaborative learning, and constructive conflict—choreographed disputes that reinforce social-emotional intelligence pathways. This is the first immersive career accelerator in the Arab World and focuses on mindfulness training such as yoga and meditation, psycho-social support and physical exercise.

2. Amplifying youth voice to create solutions for youth employment

What if youth employment programs held one on one conversations with all participating youth at once? Is it even possible to do this at scale? Africa’s Voices, a nonprofit incubated by the University of Cambridge, has created technology to provide an innovative solution for incorporating youth voice in programs.  

Its conversational platform for youth engagement and rapid program insights allows two-way SMS communications with young people in a way that is affordable and can be scaled up. The platform takes large amounts of qualitative feedback and makes sense out of it in ways that can help program managers respond to youth suggestions in real time.

3. Enabling women to work in male-dominated sectors like construction

Women have immense disadvantages in the construction sector. Buildher takes on this challenge head-on. It trains Kenyan women in construction and enables them to attain certification, secure employment and increase their incomes through multi-stakeholder and multi-pronged program design.

Their approach has evolved to include training on gender-based violence, sexual health, family planning, and even personal skills such as confidence and communication. In addition to their efforts getting employers to hire more women in a growing industry in Kenya, they have also ensured family support by involving family members—especially men—in community outreach efforts.

4. Developing private sector-led partnerships for systemic change

To meet the goal of skilling and upskilling 150 million people in India, the country’s “experimental” National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) created 37 Sector Skills Councils, autonomous, private sector-led bodies that provide insights on the training curriculum, trainer standards, quality assurance, technology platforms, and student placement mechanisms.

In Ethiopia, the Jobs Creation Commission recently embarked on a similar journey, striving to foster private sector-led growth to create 14 million jobs by 2025. The Indian experience of setting up an unproven entity like the NSDC in partnership with the private sector provides relevant and timely insights for Ethiopia on how policymakers could partner with the private sector there to create a demand-driven skills agenda—a crucial component for addressing youth employment.

5. Using a neuroscience gamified application to identify the right candidates

A pilot project in South Africa run by the World Bank’s Mind, Behavior, and Development (eMBeD) team is using a new platform to scout and connect with youth. Knack is a platform anchored in neuroscientific tests that use behavioral games played on a mobile platform to measure traits, skills, and work competencies, including problem-solving, conscientiousness, social intelligence, empathy, leadership, growth mindset, collaboration, planning, grit, perseverance, creativity, and others.

Most science-and-AI gamification platforms are still relatively unknown, especially since almost all of them are proprietary. But complementing these techniques with traditional ones, such as HR oversight, can improve scale and effectiveness.

Visit S4YE’s Regional Forum’s page to learn more about the above design ideas as well as other exciting youth employment programs.

An Information-communication Revolution in the Pacific


Sunamika Singh

Program Officer, Solutions for Youth Employment

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