Youth Employability Wiki


What are Challenges?
Why did we launch the Youth Employability Challenge?
What was the objective with the Youth Employability Challenge?
Which activities were undertaken as part of the Challenge?
Key Challenge outputs
Case studies
Suggested resources

This wiki was created as an accessible resource for anyone interested in youth employability and how business can support young people into work.

The wiki is a key output of the Youth Employability Challenge hosted by Business Fights Poverty during July 2016 to July 2017.

The Challenge was supported by the following organisations:

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID)
Anglo American

What are Challenges?

Achieving the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires bold action and innovative thinking. Business Fights Poverty believe that the best way to make the urgent progress required is by rethinking the way we collaborate.

Founded over 10 years ago, we energise open collaboration around specific, fast-paced Challenges.
We bring together the best thinkers and the most passionate practitioners from across our network of tens of thousands of business, non-profit and government professionals. Together we drive action to unlock new opportunities for poor and marginalised people around the world.

The Business Fights Poverty community is committed to turning the promises of the Sustainable Development Goals into reality, one Challenge at a time.
To learn more about Challenges, download the brochure here or watch a short video.

Why did we launch the Youth Employability Challenge?

The background to the Challenge and the motivation for launching it is set out in the Foreword to the Youth Employability guide.

See this slide for some statistics on the Bigger Youth Unemployment Picture.

What was the objective with the Youth Employability Challenge?

The Challenge considered what business can do, working with its partners at the country level, to boost youth employability and employment, and how to accelerate the level of business engagement with the ultimate objective of leveraging private sector resources to help reduce youth unemployment.

Which activities were undertaken as part of the Challenge?

Online panel discussion (November 2016) The discussion focused on barriers standing in young people’s way as they try to transition out of education and into their first jobs. Panellists shared their views on what skills young people need to find employment, and exchanged ideas on why so many lack these skills. Several examples were offered of what business can do to help young people acquire the right skills and find decent work. You can read all comments contributed during the discussion here.

Company workshop (December 2016) Held simultaneously in London and New York, this workshop was attended by Challenge Supporters and their partners who talked about the business case for investing in young people’s skills development, and barriers preventing more companies from taking effective action. There was much discussion of the need to collaborate across sectors. Participants drew on their organisations’ experience to identify success factors for effective youth employability programmes, suggest some opportunities for increased collaboration, and highlight challenges that need to be addressed to allow collaborative work to grow in scale and impact. [I might provide a link to a note summarising key messages from the workshop, but need to get clearance from Supporters first]

Research interviews Between November 2016 and end-January 2017, 30 research interviews were conducted with a range of practitioners and experts to find out what they have learnt about essential ingredients of a successful business-led youth employability intervention.

Blog series A blog series which showcased examples of best practice from a range of sectors ran on Business Fights Poverty from November 2016 to April 2017. The blogs can be accessed via the Challenge home page.

Key Challenge outputs

Business Fights Poverty Challenges provide Supporters with a great opportunity to engage with peers, development partners and other stakeholders from across the Business Fights Poverty community, which numbers over 25,000 professionals. The relationships that are created or strengthened, and the opportunity to learn from one another and exchange insights, are among the key outputs of the Challenge process.

Challenges also produce more tangible outputs. In the case of the Youth Employability Challenge, our main physical output was a guide to business support for youth employability. The product of a 9-month process of research and engagement, the guide captures key messages and lessons learned as shared by companies and their partners in civil society, the donor community and government, about how business can best support young people as they transition into work.

At the heart of the guide is a framework for developing youth skills development programmes. Because employability is context-specific, depending on industry, culture, and other factors, the framework provides an approach to assessing demand and supply for skilled young people and designing a programme to bridge the gaps – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. The guide also includes practical tips, a selection of case studies illustrating different aspects of the approach, and recommended resources for further information.

The guide covers the following:

  1. Why should business invest in youth employability?
    (includes some statistics on the Bigger Youth Unemployment Picture)
  2. What skills do young people need to be employable? (includes a box on Jobs of the Future)
  3. How can companies take action?

A framework for developing youth skills development programmes

  • Step 1: Identify the demand for labor

  • Step 2: Understand supply side gaps

  • Step 3: Design and implement a successful programme

  • Pillar 1: The right content (includes a box on apprenticeships)

  • Pillar 2: Appropriate marketing and delivery mechanisms

  • Pillar 3: Collaboration for impact and scale

  • Pillar 4: A funding model that fits

  • Pillar 5: Results measurement rooted in employment

At the heart of the guide is a framework for developing youth skills development programmes. The focus is on skills for jobs, rather than entrepreneurship, another potential route to youth employment.

The guide also features a selection of case studies demonstrating best practice and demonstrating various aspects of the framework.

Case studies

1. Transforming learners into earners: The Pearson and Microsoft partnership
Long-term partners Pearson and Microsoft seek to make their technology skills training and certification offering available to the growing number of refugees around the world.

2. Citi and Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress
This initiative provides a good illustration of the wide range of activities companies can engage in to help young people hone their employability skills.

3. Barclays and Per Scholas Partnership
Barclays’ partnership with specialist skills provider Per Scholas aims to meet a clearly identified recruitment demand for technology skills in the United States.

4. BRAC Skills Development Programme: Skills Training for Advanced Resources (STAR), Bangladesh
BRAC works with over 10,400 SMEs in Bangladesh, using an apprenticeship model to provide skills training and workplace experience to disadvantaged and excluded youth, and achieving a remarkable 95% job placement rate.

5. Marks & Spencer and The Prince’s Trust
Marks & Spencer’s partnership with The Prince’s Trust addresses a core business need – increased demand for labour during peak retail periods – while creating opportunities for vulnerable young people to hone their employability skills in a highly supportive environment.

6. E4D/SOGA – Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa
The E4D/SOGA - Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa initiative is a good example of a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in response to a specific anticipated demand for labour. Although donor-driven, business is a key partner.

7. Harambee Youth Employment Acceleraton
Harambee is a private sector-originated and -driven initiative which uses a 3-way
financing model to fund its work supporting disadvantaged young South Africans
at risk of unemployment into decent work.

8. CAP Youth Empowerment Institute
CAP-YEI measures the success of their competency-based skills training for vulnerable young Kenyans by the number of young people that end up in work, entrepreneurship or further education on completion of training, and uses longitudinal studies to track longer-term impacts.

Please add further case studies that you think might be interesting or helpful to others.

Suggested Resources



  • WEF (2015) Disrupting Unemployment: Business-led Solutions for Action. Portal that consolidates information on business-led solutions, often implemented in multistakeholder partnerships, for addressing skills gaps, fostering entrepreneurship and facilitating the talent market.
  • Opportunity Youth (2011) Connecting Youth and Business: A Toolkit for Employers. Guidance for companies wanting to help young people get workplace experience and skills. Includes practical tools such as monitoring and evaluation metrics and sample scorecards. Useful list of practical resources and potential partners (US-based).
  • ManPowerGroup (2012) Youth Unemployment Challenges and Solutions. What Business Can Do Now: Summarises barriers to youth employability and suggests 5 groups of business-driven solutions employers can adopt, with practical examples of each solution.
  • Youth Economic Opportunities network library of resources. Making Cents International manages the Youth Economic Opportunities network (YEO Network) which has more than 35,000 members from across the development spectrum and hosts a flagship annual Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit. The YOE network hosts an extensive library of resources on youth workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial inclusion.
  • Lifeskills created with Barclays. Leading example of online employability skills training offering. Works with schools and businesses to reach over 4.3 million youth to date.
  • International Youth Foundation library of resources. Global youth network focused on promoting youth development through partnership, including the flagship youth employability initiative, Passport to Success. Useful library of resources.
  • JAWorldwide. Long-standing global youth network partnering with some of the world’s largest companies to reach over 1 million young people with work readiness and entrepreneurship skills training, delivered by volunteers.






Click here for a downloadable version of this list

Please add further suggested resources that you think might be interesting or helpful to others.