Demand-Driven Training for youth employment programs build job-relevant skills valued by employers and useful for self-employment by offering both pre-employment skills development and some form of on-the- job training.

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What is the Demand-Driven Training (DDT) Toolkit for Youth Employment?


Programs develop and prepare
youth for specific job roles.

DDT refers to those skills development initiatives that are customized to respond directly to specific requirements of a job role for an employer or a group of employers, and lead to placement in employment or self-employment.


The goal of the Demand-Driven Training for Youth Employment is to accelerate the scaling of world-class demand-driven training (DDT) youth programs and to promote the best and most promising practices in DDT to successfully prepare and transition young people into sustainable jobs. The Toolkit's precursor document, the Demand-Driven Training Framework, presents background on the DDT concept and captures the common elements and critical processes evident in best practice programs.

How we gathered the information

Both the framework and toolkit are based on a review of the literature, and interviews and site visits with ten leading DDT providers operating in South Africa and globally. Input and feedback were gathered from many along the way.


The DDT Framework and Toolkit were created for youth development practitioners; educators and trainers; program managers and administrators; and all those who design, develop, deliver and fund youth education and training programs.

How to integrate in your own work

Acknowledging that there is no single algorithm for creating an effective training for employment initiative, the toolkit aims to support better alignment of existing or new youth programs with employers' expectations and labor market demand for skills. Depending on the complexities of each context, target group and economic sector, DDT lessons learned and recommendations captured in the toolkit must be customized and adjusted.


What is labor market information?

Labor Market Information (LMI) includes quantitative or qualitative data and analysis related to employment and the workforce. It deals with status, changes, trends and projections of ‘demand for’, and ‘supply of’ labor.
Quantitative Labor Market data sources are employment, wage, jobs, vacancies, and other comprehensive reports from national, regional or local government statistical agencies, census bureaus, economic development bodies, etc., or analyses done by private providers of LMI (such as EMSI, ESRI, etc.)
Qualitative Labor Market data is usually collected through surveys, interviews and focus groups, with carefully selected experts or representatives from various stakeholders’ circles.
Real-time Labor Market data is compiled by aggregating and analyzing actual job postings on the Internet. Vendors (such as Burning Glass Labor Insight) gather information from online job boards, industry-specific job sites, and companies’ recruitment websites, and allow the end user to search with multiple criteria.
Understanding Labor Market Information helps stakeholders (policy makers, private sector employers, students and their parents, education and training providers, and others) to make more informed choices related to their personal career, or public and private workforce investments.

examples of labor market information

New York`s Monroe Community College uses sophisticated data gathering and analysis systems to create local supply/demand dashboards for occupational clusters - all with the goal of developing and fine-tuning programs that address regional and local skill shortages.
MENA-YES youth training for employment program, launched by Global Communities and supported by the Caterpillar Foundation, used the concept of Sector Advisory Committees (SAC) to bring together representatives from private sector companies, education and training institutions, and youth supporting organizations all active in the same target industry sector. The main objectives of the SACs were to promote information sharing on hiring trends, skill requirements and job opportunities in the local market, and to agree on the curriculum outline for most in-demand job roles in that specific sector.
To incentivize employers to share their LMI, some TVET centers in the Philippines started offering free five-day certificate courses attractive to local businesses. Providing the course has improved the TVET's access to LMI: many firms now share their immediate and future hiring needs, get involved in curriculum design and training needs analysis, and consider TVET graduates for their job openings.


Partnering with employers and others

 What is Partnering?

Partnering (collaborating, cooperating) is a process of working together for a common purpose or benefit.
The DDT approach requires that education and training providers engage and collaborate with private sector employers through various partnership activities that improve the alignment of their skills development programs with employers' current and projects hiring needs.


Examples of Partnering between Educators/Trainers and Employers

YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild International, with Saint-Gobain Corporation in the United States and in South Africa. The relationship between YouthBuild, a DDT provider, and the global building materials company Saint-Gobain, started in 2010 with a series of community service projects engaging employee-volunteers to assist YouthBuild students and staff in the design and construction of affordable homes. After several successful projects in various cities across the U.S., the partners engaged in joint training for insulation and window film installation leading to certifications for YouthBuild students and job opportunities with Saint-Gobain contractors also participating in these projects. In 2015, the partners announced they were expanding their initiative to South Africa.
TVET Institutions and Industries in Bangladesh have a goal to enhance employability skills. Research conducted in Bangladesh identifies online TVET-industry collaboration models, proposes various collaboration initiatives, and identifies common problems faced during collaboration.

Examples of Partnering between Educators and DDT Providers

Miami Dade College (MDC) and Year Up in U.S. Since 2012, MDC and Year Up have offered an intensive one-year program for college students, ages 18-24, combining professional coaching, hands-on skill development, and internships at local companies. Year Up has similar partnerships in other cities, and has developed a sophisticated model of employer engagement to ensure very high placement rates for graduates.
Generation with various colleges in five countries (Kenya, Mexico, Spain, India and United States). Generation brings together employers and educators to train workers for jobs in high-growth areas like technology, healthcare and customer service, and assists them in finding full-time jobs, many of them at top national and regional companies. Nearly 1,000 youth have gone through the U.S. program, adding to the 12,000 graduates globally.
Screening, Assessments, and Profiling

 What are Screening, Assessments and Profiling?

Screening is the process of evaluating or assessing whether someone is suitable for a specific role or purpose. Schools and training programs often screen applicants based on eligibility criteria set for their program. Employers screen job candidates based on a set of predetermined requirements to identify a smaller group of potential hires. Those selected job seekers are then put through various assessments.
Assessments, in education, refers to a wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or education needs of students. For employers, assessments are systematic methods of gathering data, under standardized conditions, with the purpose of reaching a conclusion regarding someone's qualification, competences, motivation, interests and fit for a specific job role.
Technical competencies are a set of job-related skills, knowledge and abilities that are necessary in successfully doing the job and delivering results. Behavioral competencies ("soft skills") are a set of behaviors based on values, personal traits (attributes), attitudes, habits and experiences that are necessary for success in the job and in the workplace.
Profiling is the recording and analysis of a person's psychological and behavioral characteristics to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a specific subgroup of people. While screening separates people into different groups based on available data, profiling often extrapolates from existing data, and groups people based on inferred characteristics.

Examples of assessments and screening

WorkKeys Assessments by ACT measures essential workplace skills (applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents) that can affect job performance and increase opportunities for career changes and advancement. These assessments are the base for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) in the United States.
Tessera by ProExam is an online tool for measuring six noncognitive skills and character strengths in middle and high school students (tenacity/grit, organization/responsibility, teamwork/cooperation, composure/resilience, leadership/ communication, and curiosity/ingenuity).
ELSA (English Skills Literacy Assessment) by EOH and Kaleidoprax Institute is a language, norms-based, group-measuring instrument that can quantify and diagnose a respondent's English language (and numeracy) skills performance, equating the competency-input performance level to that of a South African English mother-tongue peer. All first-year students at Tshwane University of Technology are tested using ELSA.
Grit Scale by Dr. Angela Duckworth is a free test of grit, considered to be one of the best predictors of success in both workplace and life. Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual's passion for a specific long-term goal, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve it.
Shadowmatch is an online assessment used by employers for recruitment. Shadowmatch is based on comparing the habits of the individual to that of the top performers to determine the anticipated propensity for the individual to succeed in doing the same job under the same working conditions as the top performers.
Roma by CareerHarmony is a platform for recruiting, screening and managing talent, available in 21 languages, and in 50 countries. CareerHarmony offers a wide range of tests to assess capabilities and skills for specific job roles, along with psychometric tests to determine aptitudes and personality traits, and compare them with job requirements.
Harambee is a youth employment accelerator in South Africa connecting young work seekers with employers looking for entry-level talent. Harambee screens candidates based on their age (18-34), citizenship (South African), education (matric-high school graduation), length of unemployment (at least six months) and criminal record (none). Eligible candidates are then tested and interviewed in person.



What are “SOFT SKILLS”?

"Soft" skills refer to behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets, such as dependability, flexibility, problem solving, grit and communication skills.

Researchers and practitioners have tried to systematize various skills into skill frameworks, and to determine which skills (both cognitive and non-cognitive) are the most important predictors of success in school, work and life for young people. They have called these special skills sets "core skills for employability" , "21st century skills" or "transferable skills." 

Although referred to by different names, most studies agree on the importance of the following skills:

Dependability-reliability, hard working, work ethic, character skills
Flexibility - adaptability
Higher order cognitive skills - problem solving, critical thinking, critical decision making
Inter-personal skills - communication, collaboration, teamwork, leadership
Intra-personal skills - self-control, future orientation, grit (perseverance)

Examples of Soft Skills Development Programs

Akazi Kanoze in Rwanda. Designed by EDC, Akazi Kanoze started in 2003 as a USAID funded workforce readiness project for out-of-school youth. Over time, with support from the government of Belgium and the Mastercard Foundation, Akazi Kanoze scaled up to provide workforce readiness curriculum (p. 14) for 190 TVET schools and 249 general secondary schools in Rwanda.
Education for Employment’s Al Morad program in Morocco. Al Morad project has helped to integrate formal career and employment preparation into the classrooms of universities and other public institutions for the first time. Through the project, EFE-Maroc formalized agreements and offered training programs within universities and public institutions. At the individual level, the Al Morad project provided job opportunities for youth through access to high-quality, market-driven skills training. Nearly 2,750 youth learned soft and professional skills critical for success in the workplace. In addition, 12,250 students learned important job search skills through the Finding a Job is a Job (FJIJ) program.
Arab Community College (ACC) in Aman and Global Communities in Jordan.
ACC adopted Global Communities, soft skills curriculum, and combined it with additional modules (entrepreneurship, English language, computer skills) thus creating a work readiness course that is free and mandatory for all first-year students.
Generation has programs in five countries (India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, United States). Generation integrates behavioral skills (teamwork, compassion, adaptability to change, professionalism, etc.), and mindset development (personal responsibility, persistence, growth mindset, future orientation, etc.) into an intensive work-readiness, job specific training lasting 5-12 weeks, with over 75 percent of the program as practicum.
International Youth Foundation (IYF) and Hilton Worldwide introduced the Passport to Success program for the hospitality sector. Several Hilton properties in South Africa, Namibia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have adopted this program which covers four core competencies: professional development (developing self-confidence, setting goals, building leadership skills), problem solving (listening, creative thinking, managing conflict), healthy lifestyles (managing risky behaviors, promoting healthy living habits), and workplace success (working in teams, respecting diversity, time management).
Educate! In Uganda. Educate! is a student mentorship scheme to empower secondary school students in Uganda by developing their leadership and business skills so that they can become effective entrepreneurs in their own communities. The program targets students in their last two years of secondary school. Mentors are recent graduates from local universities who receive training before being placed at partner schools. Each mentor works directly with students to help build non-cognitive skills such as self-confidence, communication, and leadership. The mentors also teach a more formal, two-year entrepreneurship and leadership course to students, where practical business skills are developed. The Educate! model is described here.
CAP-Youth Empowerment Initiative in Kenya. (p.23) Since 2010, CAP-YEI uses the BEST model for training out- of-school youth on soft, technical and entrepreneurship skills. The BEST model was developed in India by the
CAP Foundation and later expanded in partnership with Plan International, and with support from various donors. Currently, with funding from the Mastercard Foundation, CAP-YEI is expanding and embedding its program within the TVET system in Kenya. So far, 46 vocational training vendors have been trained in the BEST model delivery.
BITE in Dominican Republic. (p.29) The Business Initiative for Technical Education (BITE) is a network of 10 local businesses, including the Center for Occupational Research and Development, that have been investing since 2007 in developing the capacity of the Loyola de San Cristobal polytechnic school (IPL) to improve the quality of upper- secondary education and to offer a career pathway program within engineering areas. Based in Santo Domingo, this education initiative helps youth acquire leadership and interpersonal skills through debate and simulation activities. Also, teachers participated in intensive professional development. The learning curve or training period for graduates upon employment in industry was dramatically reduced from 18 months to 3 months.
Kanumuru Education and Knowledge Limited (KEKL) program in India. (p.56-57) Teachers are trained in core skills and are assessed periodically. The training methodology is considered the most effective way of building and delivering soft skills, oral communication skills, personality development, life skills, thinking skills, group work skills, aesthetic/design skills and information and communication technology skills.




Mentoring is a professional relationship between two individuals, the mentor and the mentee, in which the mentor (usually a more experienced person) supports and encourages the personal and professional growth of the mentee (usually a less experienced person).

Characteristics of a Good Mentor

  • Able to commit adequate time, energy and attention to the mentee consistently over time. Enjoys helping others.
  • Has patience and empathy for others.
  • Has good interpersonal skills.
  • Emulates well the values of the organization.
  • Performs well in his/her job, enjoys respect.
  • Is trusted and maintains good working relationships with others in the organization.
  • Willing to share his/her knowledge and experiences, while being able to appreciate differing beliefs, opinions, behavioral styles and habits.

Examples of mentoring programs


iMentor is a secondary school-based mentoring program in the United States that brings together low income students with college-educated mentors, with the goal of improving the probability of graduation from high school and college for disadvantaged youth. Among iMentor students, 79% graduate from high school, 65% enroll in college and 59% complete tertiary education. (Note: typically only 26% of low income youth graduate from college in the US.)
SAYes was founded in 2008 to improve the outcomes for young people transitioning out of care (children’s homes) in South Africa. The program matches youth (aged 14-25) with trained mentors to deliver transition skills content and link mentored youth to economic opportunities.
The USA National Mentoring Alliance is a collaboration of more than 70 YouthBuild programs in the United States, targeting young people who have dropped out of school. The program starts with three months of group mentoring, followed by 12 months of one-on-one mentoring, coupled with heavy job skills training. An evaluation of this program, focused on 16 to 18 year old participants, showed that students who were matched with a mentor were 60% more likely to complete the program.
Established in 1999, INJAZ connects university and college students with veteran entrepreneurs and mentors, including volunteers from the private sector who support young people in establishing and growing social and business enterprises. INJAZ has developed a market relevant curriculum that advances students’ communication and interpersonal skills, critical and creative thinking, financial literacy and teamwork. INJAZ has engaged more than 30,000 corporate volunteers and served over 1.2 million youth.
Operating for over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is the largest volunteer-supported mentoring network in the United States, serving children ages 6-8 through community-based programs. Two independent impact evaluation studies of this highly respected program found that it reduced substance abuse and violence, and improved school attendance and performance, as well as relationships with parents and peers.
Implementing work-based learning

 What is Work-Based Learning?


Work-Based Learning (WBL) takes place in a real (or simulated) working environment through participation in the work process. It is also referred to as on-the-job training (OJT), employment-based learning, enterprise-based learning, or workplace learning.

Workplace-based learning can take various modalities, such as:

  • Internships for university graduates
  • Apprenticeships (learnerships) for TVET students
  • Job shadowing for younger secondary school students
  • Workplace familiarization through company or job environment simulations for job seekers In-company training for existing employees, etc.

Examples of Work-Based Learning

Jovenes en Accion program in Colombia provided subsidized training to 80,000 disadvantaged young people over four years. The training consisted of three months of classroom training and three months of on-the-job training. The impact evaluation of this program shows large program effects, especially for women and youth.
The Mubarak-Kohl Initiative-Dual System in Egypt, was based on a partnership between schools and employers aimed at improving students’ employability skills. Learners spent two days a week in a secondary technical school, acquiring theoretical knowledge, and four days a week in a workplace developing practical skills and workplace behaviors. According to a survey conducted in 2002, 86% of the host companies offered employment contracts to graduates. Overall, the program reported that 70% of graduates either got a job or continued to higher education.
The Professional Traineeship Programme for Young Adults in Portugal, is a 12-month on-the-job training in a company for unemployed young adults under 30 years of age who have completed at least six years of formal vocational education. The program helps young people to get their first experience in the labor market, and, at the same time, assists companies, particularly small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to access a new pool of qualified job candidates. Over a period of 12 years, more than 170,000 youth participated in the program, and 72.5% of them got jobs (76% of those took up jobs in the firm that provided OJT).
Invincible Outsourcing at Maharishi Institute in South Africa is an example of embedding a real workplace (call center) within a post-secondary education institution. Invincible Outsourcing provides inbound and outbound call center services to client companies. Students of the Maharishi Institute receive training as call center agents and practical experience at Invincible Outsourcing.
Monitoring & evaluating DDT programs

 What is monitoring & evaluation

Monitoring is a continuous process of collecting and analyzing information to determine how well a project or program is performing against expected results.

Evaluation is a systematic and objective assessment of an ongoing or completed project/program to determine its relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability and fulfillment of its objectives.

examples of monitoring and evaluating DDT programs

“Opening Doors: more Guidance – Better Results? Three-year effects of an enhanced student services program at two community colleges,” is a study that examines the impact of the Opening Doors program at Lorain County Community College and Owens Community College in Ohio, Unites States, using a randomized control trial.
“Advance Manufacturing Education (AME) Alliance Evaluation: Final Evaluation Report,” is a example of the summarized findings of an evaluation study.
Economic Mobility Corporation conducted a multi-year evaluation of the Year Up program in the United States. Their results have been published in a series of reports, including “Sustained Gains: Year Up’s Continued Impact on Young Adults’ Earnings” and “A Promising Start: Year Up’s Initial Impacts on Low-Income Young Adults’ Careers”




We sincerely thank the contributors, organizations and individuals who provided us with insight, comments,
examples and ideas. Their experience, expertise and wisdom enriched our work on the DDT Toolkit.

The Team Behind the DDT Toolkit

With support and guidance from the Rockefeller Foundation, Making Cents International
developed this set of tools and resources for youth development stakeholders across the world.

  • Dr. Christy Olenik

    Project Director
    Making Cents International

  • Ms. Branka Minic

    Lead Researcher and Author

    Making Cents International

  • Ms. Traci Freeman

    South Africa SDO
    The Rockefeller Foundation

  • Mr. Patrick Karanja

    Program Associate
    The Rockefeller Foundation

  • Yohan Perera

    Graphic Designer

  • Austin Spivey

    Instructional Designer