Youth employment projects face varying contextual realities and constraints that often result in generating innovations when adapting and customizing their monitoring and evaluation system. There is a lag in the spread of innovations due to the various contexts, funders, and organizations often operating independently. Project teams find their own solutions to similar rising challenges, which in some instances lead to a medley of methods and conventions in monitoring and evaluation that lack a uniform standard.
To capture some of the main innovations and challenges in monitoring and evaluation, we held our first Virtual Workshop with Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE)’s Impact Portfolio, which is a group of 19 promising and innovative youth employment projects. This brought together 30 participants from locations spanning across regions. As our new report highlights, challenges include: measuring job creation; consistently measuring important outcomes such as the financial behaviors of entrepreneurs; and tracking beneficiaries after graduating from youth employment programs to measure labor market outcomes.
We covered two new frameworks varying in scope, from a broad overarching framework to track jobs-related outcomes of projects to a newly developed metric focused on cost-effectiveness.
Innovations in youth employment programs are critical to addressing this enormous development challenge effectively. Rapid progress in digital technology, behavioral economics, evaluation methods, and the connectivity of youth in the developing world generates a stream of real-time insights and opportunities in project design and implementation. Part of the challenge is the sheer number of projects (just in Egypt, there are over 180 youth employment programs). And even without being aware, projects often innovate out of necessity in response to situations they face on the ground. But innovations need to be tested in different country contexts to be able to make an impact at scale.
Through the new Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) report, our team ventured to curate a few such ongoing innovations as they were being implemented through S4YE’s Impact Portfolio — a group of 19 youth employment projects from different regions being implemented by different partners across the globe. This network of youth employment practitioners serves as a dynamic learning community and laboratory for improving the jobs outcomes of youth globally.
Economic research is essential for designing and implementing evidence-based solutions to improve job opportunities. In a recent conference organized by the World Bank and IZA, researchers from around the world presented over 30 research papers on important labor topics such as migration, gender, youth employment, and labor policies in low-income countries. Here is an illustrative sample of four innovative works presented during the conference.
How can we provide employment to the 1.8 billion young people that live on this planet? Will we have enough jobs for all these young people? Will there be sufficient high-quality and high-productivity work, especially for women, who are often the most vulnerable when it comes to finding meaningful work?
The past decade has wrought numerous studies on youth training programs, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, little research exists on they operate and their effects beyond the labor market. We spoke with Guillermo Cruces, of the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies (CEDLAS) at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina, about the Center's efforts to fill this hole by studying the Entra21 program in Cordoba in 2011-12.
As the world's youngest and poorest region, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a major jobs challenge. Half of the population is under 25, and every year 11 million people enter the labor force — mostly youth looking for work. After more than a decade of rapid growth and expansion of educational opportunities, youth have high aspirations and expectations, and African policy makers are concerned about how to meet them. Jobs and opportunity are at the top of the development agenda.
Globally youth are, on average, nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than older adults. In South Africa this problem has been exacerbated by the global downturn. When the economy slowed down, youth unemployment began to rise sooner than adult unemployment, suggesting that younger people are more vulnerable to changing economic conditions. The question arises whether interventions should focus on youth among the unemployed. I would argue that interventions should specifically target youth, as they face some significant barriers to entering the labor market.
In Tunisia, around 40 percent of youth are unemployed, many of them with only a secondary education or less. To help them find jobs, the government is undertaking a comprehensive reform of its active labor market programs. The JKP recently spoke with Mohsen Bentouati—Sub-Director of Employment Programs, Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment—about the planned introduction of a biometric identification card. It will be used to monitor the operation of the programs, the use of services, and to make payments, along with ensuring that the people targeted are those most likely to benefit.
Kenya has high unemployment and under-employment, but the jobless rate for youth is much higher than that for adults. For that reason, a pilot project—part of the Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP)—is under way to address the lack of skills and work experience for unemployed youth (aged 15-29). We spoke with the KYEP’s coordinator, Alice Githu (Senior Youth Development Officer, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports). She says that one key lesson is the need to offer life skills training on top of core business skills. Another is the importance of private sector involvement.