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


(Tahsinah Ahmed) #41

There is no substitute to a good basic education which builds the foundation for learning. Similarly, there is no substitute to teaching-learning processes which forms character, positively influences personality, instill values and builds cognition. Guidance from home, community and society also play a critical role in shaping today’s youth as future citizens. These basic skills (reading, writing, calculations, communications etc.) and soft skills (honesty, integrity, confidence, inquisitiveness, pro-activeness, empathy, respect for diversity, critical thinking, analytical abilities etc.) are what employers search for more and more today alongside competence in relevant technical (related to the job) and entrepreneurship skills (leadership, team building, management, negotiation, customer relationship, financial literacy, market analysis, relevant laws and rights etc.). Education systems which recognize these issues also provide enough scope for practical internships (e.g. the dual system / apprenticeship model in Europe), which can ready learners for the workplace. But where systems fail to ensure necessary growth, children graduate or drop out with low skills or no skills and often grow up into youth with underestimation about their own potentials and limited aspirations. Such children, youth and adults get absorbed mainly in the informal economy which in countries like Bangladesh, generate 78% of employment. Employment on the formal sector is 22% of which 11% are in manufacturing and the remaining 11% in services. Therefore, jobs in the informal economy matter and it’s essential to look into modalities of how employees are skilled in such settings and the role and expectation of employers in this regard. In such circumstances, underemployment affect young people equally as unemployment and should not be overlooked in discussions in regard to the right skills for transition into good jobs. Especially when we talk about young people who are looking for jobs instead of being in school, the fact remains evident that most of them dropped out at some stage of their schooling due to poverty and other reasons. Constraints for disadvantaged groups who are marginalized due to various reasons, females due to social norms and rural population due to accessibility is more acute.

In a population of about 170 million, Bangladesh has a workforce of 52 million. By 2025, the labour force is expected to grow to 76 million as 2 million youth join the labour market every year. The need for jobs is staggering and the need to skill labour accordingly is even a greater challenge. About 50% of Bangladesh’s youth and adult population are illiterate or semi-literate. Dropouts in general usually relapse into illiteracy and risk getting into 3D (dirty, demeaning or dangerous) jobs, while dropout girls face a high risk of early marriage. While unemployment rate is relatively low in Bangladesh (<5%) but underemployment (low skills = low paid jobs), is alarmingly high (38%). Compared to the population of the country and considering the youth bulge, the unemployment rate is also an issue of concern. The outreach of the formal sector is inadequate with the country having 3’000 public and private training institutions which are able to enroll only 500’000 students each year, of which only 10% are able to get jobs because most training are not demand based nor allow necessary practical exposure to real work situation. Learners who drop out due to economic reasons oftentimes cannot afford the time for formal training of long duration. Customized enterprise based short courses or apprenticeships become extremely useful in these cases. National initiatives tend to focus on (large) industries related to growth sectors and oftentimes overlook the role of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), which play an equally important role in the informal economy or alternative modalities of training for jobs. This is more of a reality in developing countries though much work is needed to improve quality and standards on MSME based training. But be it for large industries or MSMEs, be it in developing or developed countries, training has to be competency based, catering to the demand of markets. The only way this can be ensured is on one hand by making training systems flexible enough to allow the private sector to take up such a role, and on the other hand, having the private sector see the value of investing time and resources for training. Such changes require sectoral reforms through policy and legislation.

Recognizing that markets are not static, training has to be structured in a continuum which allows personal growth and professional career progression through ladderization and Life Long Learning opportunities so that employees may learn, adapt and adjust as and when necessary as per the need of a changing market. The link between training service providers vis-a-vis employers is critical. Countries need to have in place an equivalency system which allows vertical and horizontal mobility within education and employment and ensures the portability of skills.

Stakeholders in Bangladesh have recognized systemic constraints mentioned earlier and therefore worked together to support the government develop a National Skills Development Policy (NSDP) which was approved in 2011. With the aim to enhance employability and productivity of the country, the NSDP is developed in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 4.4. and calls for overhauling the age old training system by introducing critical reforms.

The government has set up a National Skills Development Council (NSDC) in partnership with the private sector to implement the NSDP and also established Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) in economic growth sectors. The ISCs work together with the national accreditation agency, the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) to set standards for training and conduct assessments. Industries are setting up Centers for Excellence and contributing to provide apprenticeships. Considering the magnitude of the population and the complexity of the system, the change process has been slow but nevertheless, moving toward the right direction also by working in partnerships with institutions like BRAC.


(Augustine Malija) #42

Are young people currently getting these skills?

To some extent.

Very few formal schools are offering a combination of these skills. The situation has gotten worse for Tanzania. There are schools we call “technical” whose curriculum combines vocational training and formal training. For five years of my experience with students who went to these schools, I observed vocational training is not provided as before. This is making for a less competitive human capital through formal schooling.

Informal schooling brings a hope to this. There a vocational training institutions we call “VETA” that are typically offering vocational training. You find most students who fail to make it to senior high schools enroll with VETA for vocational skills they need. A very few, passionate youth, enroll with VETA straight from primary school.

Looking at this closely, we see an extended time of schooling for students who cannot make it to further schooling. If both were provided as before it would reduce their time schooling to only four years of junior high school. It would also produce more creative workforce. I overheard an interesting story from one of my University staff over lunch. He said one day a mechanical engineer in a cement factory could not fix a broken cement production machine belt and ordered for the purchase of a new one. Interesting there was a technician who went through VETA training. He managed to fix the belt on the same day. This example brings to light the current situation.

Formal schooling also provides the skills to some extent. Among others, my University had interesting outdoor cement built tables and chairs. These developed us mainly on team work, communication and ability to urge. All this came from group discussions they invited us to do.

On the other hand, it left out other important skills. We only did presentations on our first year of university and this was not a power point presentation, it was on paper. We did not get case situations to come up with solutions to problems presented. So, you see we lacked these important skills in work places.

A very few youths who take an extra mile gain these skills. Most of these youths are the ones volunteering with various institutions and run businesses. My class had around 250 students, but only around 70 of us engaged in volunteering and running businesses. Platforms that tasked us to deploy these skill sets to deliver results.

Development practitioners are taking a lead in offering these skills to young people. The Youth Think Tank is a good example where we are versed with research and international development skills. There are a variety of other programs such as the Equity Group Foundation’s Wings to Fly program and IYF’s Via: Pathways to Work Program.


(Hester le Roux) #43

Thank you everyone for all your contributions – much food for thought here.
In the interest of time, let’s move on to our second question:

Q2: 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?


(Kelly Trakalo) #44

Underemployment occurs even in cases of individuals with undergraduate degrees. Graduating without specific skills/training that lends itself to a particular job and being high in debt from obtaining the degree is an issue.

María Jesús Pérez Fernández said:

Underemployment is a phenomenon also in developed countries. In Spain, 26% of Young workers are at risk of poverty or exclusión according to AROPE rate. This means wworking conditions are not favourable for youth.

We also discovered how youth have been largely affected byy the economic downturn, suffering from dismissals at a much higher rate tan adults.


(Gisele Dal Pogeto D.Cardozo) #45

Employment x location x government x unemployment x company?
These items interrelate in the context of the civil society in an intense way and mainly evidencing the correctness and the failures of the models adopted. Proactive measures become necessary to meet the unpredictability and turbulence that the global situation faces. These are challenges that, faced in a directed way, can overcome the financial crises and their upheavals. We are currently experiencing a new concept of the word employment, where it is no longer possible to share relationships that have been overcome by the rules and concepts of the market. They are extremely important paradigms in solving problems that sometimes permeate simple answers. When you talk about employability, what is the most important: creating five jobs or creating five companies? The answer requires that there be joint participation of all participants in the locality, all social actors and certainly the outcome will be surprising.


(Brandie Conforti) #46

Companies have a wealth of resources to help prepare youth for the workforce. A corporation’s human capital when shared can have a profoundly positive effect on young people. JA’s programs are designed to bring corporate volunteers into schools to deliver a curriculum that educates and inspires young people to understand career choices, develop critical life skills, and foster self-efficacy. This cost-effective model is free to most school systems and has enabled JA to develop deep relationships with educators, allowing us to implement job readiness and entrepreneurship programs in regions such as China, India, and the Middle East with high youth unemployment rates. Each year these nearly 500,000 volunteers, are the driving force behind JA’s ability to reach over 10 million students annually.

JA Worldwide is fortunate to have some of the largest corporations as our global partners. Working side-by-side with the world’s best companies such as Citi, FedEx, and MetLife – to name a few – enables JA to build partnerships that allow us to gain a deep understanding of the needs of employers and what skills prospective employees need. By creating innovative cross-sectoral partnerships that include corporate volunteers mentoring youth; young people gaining an inside view into a corporation and how it works; to JA gaining a deeper understanding of what skills corporations expect in their new hires, we are able to develop mutually reinforcing relationships with corporations that create a virtuous cycle for youth.


(Richard Sandall) #47

The heavy lifting of skilling young people is still likely to depend largely on the public sector, or low cost private skills providers. Companies can help, though, in at least three different ways. First, they have a critical role to play in trying to ensure that skills delivery is relevant and high quality – joining boards of education establishments, for example, or engaging in labour market surveys that influence what courses are offered and taken. From my experience in Uganda, this is a major failing. Second is the information challenge: making sure that information about the jobs they offer (and the recruitment process) is made available and usable to youth who may be able take advantage, but may be limited in their job search capacity. Third is in house: ensuring that the positions they offer provide the right training and mentoring to attract and retain young workers, even where those workers may be disadvantaged compared to their older peers.

Of course some major businesses can sponsor particular training programmes and help thousands of additional youth, beyond the companies own immediate interests. This is very welcome, but may not reach the scale required to embed systemic and sustainable improvements in the labour market.



Hester le Roux said:

Thank you everyone for all your contributions – much food for thought here.
In the interest of time, let’s move on to our second question:

Q2: 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?


(Dorothy Stuehmke) #48

Companies realize more and more that they have a responsibility to change the way they equip young people for future career success. Some of the ways they can provide value add in helping to create economic mobility for youth are through availing internships and work placement opportunities for youth. In addition to experiences that will refine their technical skills, staff can also play a valuable role in advancing youth economic opportunities by contributing their time as mentors or providing overall programmatic support, including capacity building and program development support; product technical assistance; speaking and thought leadership opportunities; volunteerism; and board service. At Citi, we call this our More than Philanthropy approach, which puts the strength of Citi's business resources and people to work to enhance our philanthropic investments and help improve communities.

One example is our Career Academies Ireland Program with UK Career Academy Foundation, which works to improve the career aspirations and employability skills of low-income, urban youth enrolled in disadvantaged schools in Dublin, Ireland. Using an intensive, selective interview process, the organization recruits high potential youth to participate in a comprehensive model that includes mentoring from business leaders, site visits to local employers, career planning and development lectures, as well as a 6-week paid internship to gain professional experience and exposure.


(Augustine Malija) #49

How does the situation differ between developed and developing countries, between cities and rural areas, between young men and young women?

Developed countries as opposed to developing countries are getting more of these skills. Relating with friends who went to college abroad and AIESEC volunteers I interacted with, I see a difference. They are more skilled technically, they have more strong life skills. They have more ability in developing arguments in a conversation and can think faster.

The only challenge that cuts across is the need for educating students according to their interests. A debate going on is that students in one class having different needs but are taught one thing. A situation that discourage their dreams. Thanks to the personalized learning approach that has recently been invented which is helping solving this.

Cities as opposed to rural areas differ in two respects, availability of opportunities and the number of trainers.

In cities, there tends to be more industries, workshops and training schools. These offer more opportunities for youths in urban to train on vocational skills than the ones in rural areas.

Trainers in both vocational and higher education tend to be available mostly in cities. This gives an advantage to urban youth since their classes appear to have relatively small sizes. This lags behind youth in the rural areas. Both type of youth volunteer though in different cases. Urban youth volunteer with institutions while rural youth volunteer to get hard skills such as silage making.


(Debbie Phillips) #50

At Barclays we partner with leading employability organisations to understand the skills needed and job opportunity areas, in order to achieve scale and support those hardest to reach.

Our research and experience shows that the rapid transformation in workplaces through the digital revolution and the growing importance in transferable skills mean that: support in digital confidence, IT, web development, cyber security, along with problem solving, resilience, communications and decision making are vital to young people’s employability.[1]

We can also see that jobs in the future will mostly come from small and medium enterprises scaling. The OECD, World Economic Forum and World Bank agree that SMEs and new technologies are areas of high employment growth.




Ndungu Kahihu said:


The model we use aims to link youth to employment opportunities by listening closely to who employers tell us they hire (or fire). It has become quite clear that for a young person to secure employment, having the hrad skills to perform the task is not enough. Employers tell us they want honest people who can learn quickly, work in teams, take initiative and be willing to accept new challenges. Some employers even say that they are willing to invest in training a young person on the job if they can show they already these 'soft' skills and altitudes. These are skills that are rarely taught in most training systems in Africa or only very poorly.


(Kelly Trakalo) #51

Business can help young people get ready for the world of work is to be engaged with them – at the grade school level and throughout secondary education. Offering internships and job shadowing. Being involved with student groups such as SkillsUSA (www.skillsusa.org ) or WorldSkills (www.Worldskills.org ) where they develop a wide range of both technical and personal skills.

Pearson is one of many corporations working with NPower (www.npower.org) to offer internship and mentoring opportunities.

Industry-led apprenticeships are a good example. Take the construction industry in the US - when they work through their own associations (Associated Builders and Contractors or Associated Contractors) – contractors hire lower skilled workers but then invest in them to train at local ABC or AC chapters to upskill to a higher level of craftsmanship).

Another example is the Lumina Foundation – they are doing critical work creating a framework of credentials that can connect students and employers. (https://www.luminafoundation.org/)

Interestingly GE has recently announced that any college graduate they hire (no matter the job) will be taught coding when they join GE – this could be a new 21st century skill that young people need that not only gets them in the door but allows them to progress. (http://fortune.com/2016/08/05/jeff-immelt-new-hire-coding/)




(María Jesús Pérez Fernández) #52

Regarding the second question Hester,

We found that the most successful companies in this respect are the ones that take a strategic step to become actively engaged in education, either signing agreements with vocational training centers, developing their own training modules and fostering apprenticeships.

There are relevant examples in this field. Volkswagen has developed a private vocational training course in Mechanics with high quality standards. The education level is so good and so adapted to the skills required in the industry, that apart from the young that are finally employed by the company, it helps young people to find a job within the automotive industry, even though it is a private certificate. In the case of most vulnerable young people, agreements with social entities are essential. But in these cases, it is also key to success that companies become actively engaged in the training and also complement actions with mentoring from employees from within the company. Relevant success stories are also those of companies that proactively develop specific jobs adapted to basic skills for a vulnerable young and help them in the transition to higher qualified jobs. Additionally, Together for Employment (Juntos por el Empleo) is a platform run by Accenture and other entities, that has developed an interesting skills assessment tool and training modules for skills development freely available for use in several languages (https://juntosporelempleo.cclearning.accenture.com/)


(Augustine Malija) #53

Companies can do two things, invest in long-term skill development to youth and support their interesting activities either financially or in kind.

By long-term skill development I mean offer internships, apprenticeship and job specific training. Internships and apprenticeships are working out well in offering good jobs and providing sustainable skills. East African youth who intern with companies long-term get a chance to showcase their skills and hard work. Most of the times these youths are employed by the same organizations or easily get jobs within other organizations. It also provides skills useful for youth to run their own businesses. One of the respondents from the Youth Think Tank research interned with a software company for six months which gave him professional skills. He utilized these skills together with his friend to start up a software company that grew to give birth to another company.

Long term job specific training give space for young people to take meaningful roles in organizations. It helps them get managerial positions that are representative. This accelerates youth inclusiveness in decision making.

Supporting youth initiatives either in kind or financially contributes in developing their skill set. Youth can be having an interesting project to run but need in kind or financial support. With AIESEC, my team and I were fundraising to buy needed items for an orphanage in Dar es Salaam. So, we sent in letters to malls asking for a space to put a stall and raise funds. Out of five malls only one, Mlimani City, gave us a permission, the rest denied our requests during follow ups. This was the second time I experienced this.

This example communicates a powerful message. Had the rest malls accept our offer, more AIESEC members would gain marketing and communication skills. Standing on the stall meant selling the general idea to a person in a minute or two for them to support. In the end, only a few had this chance.



Hester le Roux said:

Thank you everyone for all your contributions – much food for thought here.
In the interest of time, let’s move on to our second question:

Q2: 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?


(James Sutton) #54

Regarding the first question Hester, we feel that young people have a tougher time in rural areas. A study in ten countries found that in all countries, youth living in urban areas are significantly more likely and able to make a transition to stable employment than youth in rural areas (Source: Global Employment Trends for Youth, ILO, 2013, page 55). The heavy mix of informal sector vs. formal sector means that many livelihoods opportunities in developing countries can be precarious, but we also know that in many rural places there is an inevitable reliance on jobs in agriculture. This is something we are aiming to help by encouraging young entrepreneurs to start up new enterprises benefiting the dairy industry in Tanzania.


(Dorothy Stuehmke) #55

Working across the private and public sectors is going to be important for us all if we are to scale innovative solutions and advance youth employability globally. It will take a collaborative approach for us to see change at a city-wide or national level across the world.

One example that the Citi Foundation has been a part of is through Summer Jobs Connect, a Citi Foundation Pathways to Progress program with Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), which has been working to set young people on the pathway to economic success through summer jobs, while providing them with targeted financial education and access to safe and affordable financial products. A fundamental component of the initiative is its focus on cross-sector and public-private partnerships. The integrated summer youth employment and financial empowerment program is operated across eight U.S. cities and through municipal-private sector partnerships, demonstrating just how effective partnership and collaboration can be in providing added value in meeting the multiple needs of youth.


(Ndungu Kahihu) #56



Lewis Temple said:

I would be intrigued by the thoughts of the panel on the role of apprenticeships in providing a pathway to employment, either in place of or together with - formal skills training?

This is very important. We have trained 14000 youth in Kenya and achieved a job placement rate exceeding 70%. One of the key reasons for this success is the great investment we make in ensuring trainees receive direct exposure to the work before during and after training. We do this by organising sessions that are conducted by industry partners - including mock interviews -, mentorship, simulating conditions at work and a mandatory internship program of at least four weeks before graduation


(Karen Moore) #57

Hi all, I'm Karen Moore, a Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods, with The MasterCard Foundation.
From our experience with our partners CAP-YEI and many others, we concur that transferable or soft skills are crucial - but we still need more robust evidence to demonstrate how best to deliver them effectively and equitably, and to demonstrate and possibly certify the effects ofsoft skill training on disadvantaged youth's knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and capacity to find and keep a decent job or start a sustainable microbusiness.

(http://www.mastercardfdn.org/building-an-evidence-base-for-the-soft-skills-movement/)

And, to reinforce our ThinkTank member Augustine's point, we know that young people often combine learning and earning, both concurrently and over time. Private sector organisations that are able to facilitate earn while you learn apprenticeship or attachment opportunities will help support youth-inclusive growth while developing a skilled and loyal workforce. (see http://www.gan-global.org/)


(Debbie Phillips) #58

Between 2012 and 2015, we, delivered skills training to over 5.7 million disadvantaged young people. As we evolve our thinking we are seeking ways to deepen our impact, by delivering shared value: in economic growth and social inclusion.

To do this we are moving to a demand led model. We want to match the demand for skilled talent within the business sector, with people who have the attitude and aptitude but don’t have the opportunities.

Employability skills remain a vital element to our programmes - LifeSkills and Digital Wings (https://www.barclayslifeskills.com and https://digital.wings.uk.barclays) being prominent in the UK;

As a bank, we are in the business of helping others to thrive and grow. SMEs, particularly high growth and entrepreneurs are most likely to be creating jobs. Barclays’ commitment to support these businesses has been strengthening. For example: we now have two dedicated funds, totalling £200 million specifically for innovative companies under Barclays’ High Growth Venture Debt Fund and Innovation Finance, along with dedicated trained up teams of support and a network of physical spaces called Eagle Labs.

This September we took this support one step further. We began working with clients, and suppliers who are growing, to help identifying real job opportunities, whilst simultaneously collaborating with employability charity partners to find people who might be right for the roles, to get them skilled for the jobs and help the transition into them. We call this ‘Connect with Work.’

We are aiming that this demand led approach, which supports people and business from entry point to end job will create real, lasting impact, and by that we mean, jobs and careers.


Augustine Malija said:

Companies can do two things, invest in long-term skill development to youth and support their interesting activities either financially or in kind.

By long-term skill development I mean offer internships, apprenticeship and job specific training. Internships and apprenticeships are working out well in offering good jobs and providing sustainable skills. East African youth who intern with companies long-term get a chance to showcase their skills and hard work. Most of the times these youths are employed by the same organizations or easily get jobs within other organizations. It also provides skills useful for youth to run their own businesses. One of the respondents from the Youth Think Tank research interned with a software company for six months which gave him professional skills. He utilized these skills together with his friend to start up a software company that grew to give birth to another company.

Long term job specific training give space for young people to take meaningful roles in organizations. It helps them get managerial positions that are representative. This accelerates youth inclusiveness in decision making.

Supporting youth initiatives either in kind or financially contributes in developing their skill set. Youth can be having an interesting project to run but need in kind or financial support. With AIESEC, my team and I were fundraising to buy needed items for an orphanage in Dar es Salaam. So, we sent in letters to malls asking for a space to put a stall and raise funds. Out of five malls only one, Mlimani City, gave us a permission, the rest denied our requests during follow ups. This was the second time I experienced this.

This example communicates a powerful message. Had the rest malls accept our offer, more AIESEC members would gain marketing and communication skills. Standing on the stall meant selling the general idea to a person in a minute or two for them to support. In the end, only a few had this chance.



Hester le Roux said:

Thank you everyone for all your contributions – much food for thought here.
In the interest of time, let’s move on to our second question:

Q2: 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?


(Hester le Roux) #59

That sounds like a great initiative Dorothy. Has Citi extended any of these programmes to some of your developing country markets?

Dorothy Stuehmke said:

Working across the private and public sectors is going to be important for us all if we are to scale innovative solutions and advance youth employability globally. It will take a collaborative approach for us to see change at a city-wide or national level across the world.

One example that the Citi Foundation has been a part of is through Summer Jobs Connect, a Citi Foundation Pathways to Progress program with Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), which has been working to set young people on the pathway to economic success through summer jobs, while providing them with targeted financial education and access to safe and affordable financial products. A fundamental component of the initiative is its focus on cross-sector and public-private partnerships. The integrated summer youth employment and financial empowerment program is operated across eight U.S. cities and through municipal-private sector partnerships, demonstrating just how effective partnership and collaboration can be in providing added value in meeting the multiple needs of youth.


(Brandie Conforti) #60

James - I think you raise a very valid point and it addresses why JA feels so strongly about both work readiness and helping youth prepare for futures as entrepreneurs. We know that in the developing world many youth become entrepreneurs not by choice, but by necessity. We feel it is critical that we help youth prepare economically for their future in whatever way will be most appropriate for their local context.

James Sutton said:

Regarding the first question Hester, we feel that young people have a tougher time in rural areas. A study in ten countries found that in all countries, youth living in urban areas are significantly more likely and able to make a transition to stable employment than youth in rural areas (Source: Global Employment Trends for Youth, ILO, 2013, page 55). The heavy mix of informal sector vs. formal sector means that many livelihoods opportunities in developing countries can be precarious, but we also know that in many rural places there is an inevitable reliance on jobs in agriculture. This is something we are aiming to help by encouraging young entrepreneurs to start up new enterprises benefiting the dairy industry in Tanzania.