Young people globally are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. They are also particularly vulnerable to insecure and poorly paid jobs. Donors are therefore increasingly interested in interventions which aim to help them access both more and better jobs. Young people are typically defined as between the ages of 15 and 24, although growing evidence that the transition to work is now more protracted and extends into higher ages has led some to argue that 25-29 year olds should also be considered young people.
The ILO estimates that more than 73 million young people (between 15 and 24) are unemployed worldwide.
The 2015 Global Employment Trends for Youth report estimates that 43% of the global youth labour force are unemployed or in working poverty. More information is available on their website “What Works in Youth Employment“.
Economists such as Justin Yifu Lin, Ragui Assaad and Deborah Levison have argued that the ‘youth bulge’ can be a positive influence on developing countries: if the increase in the number of working age individuals can be fully employed in productive activities, other things being equal, the level of average income per capita should increase as a result. However, if a large cohort of young people cannot find employment, the result will likely be a large number of frustrated youth. For more information on the potential consequences for social and political (in)stability, please refer to the ‘Employment and Vulnerable Groups’ section on the PSD in CAEs knowledge page, and selected recommended reading below.
This page summarises some of the key evidence around Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment, for a DCED Synthesis Note on this topic click here.
Key overview documents
- Conference report: Boosting youth employment in Africa: what works and why? INCLUDE and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2017. See also: video interviews with conference participants.
- Interventions to Improve the Labour Market Outcomes of Youth: A Systematic Review of Training, Entrepreneurship Promotion, Employment Services and Subsidised Employment Interventions, ILO, 2016. This systematic review looked at the available evaluation evidence in order to assess the effectiveness of the various types of youth targeted interventions in different contexts. It covers 107 interventions in 31 countries.The authors conclude that while active labour market policies targeting youth do pay off, they are an investment that needs time to grow. The results are summarised in the following blog: Four ways to maximise the effectiveness of youth employment programs. Johan Kluve, 2017.
- Youth & Transferable Skills Evidence Gap Map, 3ieImpactThe purpose of this evidence gap map is to provide easy access to the best available evidence on the outcomes of transferable skills programming for youth in low- and middle-income countries and to highlight where there are important gaps in this evidence base.
- Meeting the Youth Employment Challenge in Africa – Six Myths, World Bank, 2014. This Blog post by Louise Fox, 2014 tackles some of the common misconceptions around youth employment in Africa. Fox argues that there has been an unhelpful focus urban unemployment. She believes that rural and agricultural employment will form an important part of alleviating youth unemployment in the continent.
- Youth Employment: What can be learnt from international experience with youth employment programmes?, EPS PEAKS, 2013. This literature review assesses best practice in and learning from youth employment programmes in developing countries. The review focuses on understanding the private sector led or driven youth employment programmes, and not especially on training.
- Youth Employment in Developing Countries, IZA, 2013. This paper, commissioned by the European Commission, aims to identify the key challenges in relation to youth employment in developing countries and provide recommendations on how EU development cooperation could support the youth employment agenda. The paper argues that the challenge for the majority of youth in developing countries is to improve the quality of employment rather than the quantity.
- Youth Bulge: A Demographic Dividend or a Demographic Bomb in Developing Countries?, Blog post by Justin Yifu Lin, 2012. The conventional approach for dealing with youth unemployment is to make young people job ready. This blog post argues that the “Youth Bulge” makes it essential that governments facilitate dynamic structural change to create jobs for youth.
Training for youth in skills
- Youth at Work: Building Economic Opportunities for Young People in Africa, MasterCard Foundation, 2015.
- Impact of an Adolescent Girls Employment Programme: The EPAG Project in Liberia, The World Bank, 2014.
- TVET Interventions to Improve Employability and Employment of Young People in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review, Campbell Systematic Reviews, Janice Tripney et al., 2013.
- Review of policies to strengthen skills-employment linkages for marginalised young people, ODI, 2012.
- Non-Public Provision of Active Labor Market Programs in Arab-Mediterranean Countries: An Inventory of Youth Programs, The World Bank, 2010.
Job Skills Training and Wage Subsidy Programmes – Comparisons and Synergies
- Soft Skills or Hard Cash? The Impact of Training and Wage Subsidy Programs on Female Youth Employment in Jordan, The World Bank, 2012.
Support to youth to be entrepreneurs
- Economic Recovery Assessment. Focus on Traders in Western Area Urban and Kenema, Sierra Leone, Mercy Corps, 2015.
- Skills and Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa: Analysis with Evidence from Swaziland, AfDB, 2014.
- Maximising the impact of youth entrepreneurship support in different contexts, YBI and ODI, 2013.
- Generation Entrepreneur? The state of global youth entrepreneurship, YBI, 2013.
- Stimulating Managerial Capital in Emerging Markets: The Impact of Business and Financial Literacy for Young Entrepreneurs, The World Bank, 2013.
- Employment Generation in Rural Africa: Mid-Term Results from an Experimental Evaluation of the Youth Opportunities Program in Northern Uganda, DIW Berlin, 2013.
- Entrepreneurship Training and Self-Employment Among University Graduates: Evidence from a Randomised Controlled Trial in Tunisia, The World Bank, 2012.
ICTs for youth employment
- Landscape Review: Mobiles for Youth Workforce Development, mEducation Alliance, 2013.
- Analysis of ICT-Enabled Youth Employment in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, Rockefeller Foundation, 2013
- Connecting to Work: How Information and Communication Technologies Could Help Expand Employment Opportunities, The World Bank, 2013.
Youth employment in conflict-affected areas
For more information, visit the DCED knowledge page on PSD in Conflict-Affected Environments.
- Youth employment in fragile countries, ECDPM, February 2017.
- Amarasuriya, Gündüz and Mayer (2009) Rethinking the Nexus between Youth, Unemployment and Conflict – Perspectives from Sri Lanka, International Alert.
Youth employment in agricultural and rural areas
- Young Africa Works – Agricultural Transformation in Africa (Summit Report), MasterCard Foundation, 2017.
- Young people, agriculture, and employment in rural Africa, UNU Wider, 2014.
- Agriculture as a Sector of Opportunity for Young People in Africa, World Bank, 2013.
- Africa’s got work to do. Employment prospects in the new century, IMF, 2013.
- Collaborating with Young People in Rural Mountain Areas: A Dynamic Reference Guide on Youth Employment, Aga Khan Foundation, 2011.
Measuring the results of youth employment interventions
- Interventions to Improve the Labour Market Outcomes of Youth: A Systematic Review of Training, Entrepreneurship Promotion, Employment Services and Subsidised Employment Interventions, ILO, August 2016
- Self-employment programmes for young people: A review of the context, policies and evidence, ILO, 2015.
- A youth wage subsidy experiment for South Africa, 3ie Impact Evaluation, 2014.
- Testing What Works in Youth Employment: Evaluating Kenya’s Ninaweza Program, Global Partnership for Youth Employment, 2013.
- Digital Opportunity Trust Internship Programme, MasterCard Foundation, 2013.
- Youth Employment Programs: An Evaluation of World Bank and IFC Support, IEG, 2012.
- Measuring Success of Youth Livelihood Interventions: A Practical Guide to Monitoring and Evaluation, Global Partnership for Youth Employment, 2011.
Other useful resources
- ILO’s What Works in Youth Employment website
- IDB’s Youth Employment Inventory (database of comparative information on youth employment interventions worldwide)
- ILO Youth Employment Programme
- The MasterCard Foundation Youth Learning
- ILO and The MasterCard Foundation Work4Youth
- SDC e&i network resources on vocational skills development