Germany boasts a highly skilled industrial labor force, thanks in large part to a system of vocational training that the U.S. abandoned. The dual education system also contributes to the low levels of youth unemployment in Germany relative to other advanced economies. And while it’s hardly the only factor, the combination of vocational education and apprenticeships ensures the country a steady supply of superbly trained workers—which is one reason why German industries have dominated the development of the Chinese infrastructure, for instance.
Today more than 3.5 billion of the world’s population are under the age of 30. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) came into force on 1 January 2016, giving us the biggest opportunity yet to improve living conditions for the next generation. But if we don’t harness the incredible power and agency of young people now, we risk missing these targets. The events of 2015 teach us that to achieve these goals, there needs to be a clear space for child and youth development – supporting young people and their organizations and enabling them to play an active role in their communities.
Scaling what works—taking effective solutions to social problems to a scale that truly transforms society—has become a powerful catchphrase in the nonprofit world, and for good reason: It is our best chance for far-reaching change in international development and the social impact sector more broadly. A lot has been written about the big questions surrounding scale: What does it mean to create transformative scale? How do we do it, and when? Which programs are worth scaling in the first place?
A young person’s first job is a critical developmental step toward adulthood. A first job provides an opportunity for youth to engage with the financial system and also infuses earnings into the local economy. In cities across the nation, youth employment programs are the single most significant way that hundreds of thousands of teens are introduced to the working world each year. With municipal ingenuity as well as private sector and philanthropic support, some city leaders and partners have developed innovative, locally-financed summer employment programs in recent years. Related year-round programs complement summer efforts, typically for smaller numbers of youth.
Positive Youth Development (PYD) is recognized as a paradigm shift for international programs. This approach pivots youth programs fixated on “No”—don’t leave school, don’t have risky sex, don’t join a criminal gang—toward activities that strengthen youth competencies and assets and support positive life choices. Important components of these affirming youth programs are a strong sense of belonging for youth and supportive relationships with peers and adults in their communities.
Oil and water? Seemingly, that’s how youth and agriculture programs have evolved—as separate entities that resist being mixed together. The resistance comes from both sides. Traditional agricultural programs often focus on adults, throwing in youth targets only if required. And traditional youth programs often shy away from agricultural livelihoods, which are seen as holding no appeal for young people. Instead of oil and water, Making Cents likens youth and agriculture programs to oil and vinegar. These mix remarkably well in the right combination, creating a new and unique product and nourishing results.
The barriers to economic security for the growing youth population are daunting. With large numbers of youth entering the job market each year, there are insufficient formal employment opportunities, especially in poorer economies. The low quality of education and training and lack of a path to the job market put youth at a disadvantage.
Educators believe that they are adequately preparing youth for the labor market while at the same time employers lament the students' lack of skills. A possible source of the mismatch in perceptions is that employers and educators have different understandings of the types of skills valued in the labor market. Using economics and psychology literature to define four skills sets—socio-emotional, higher-order cognitive, basic cognitive, and technical—this paper reviews the literature that quantitatively measures employer skill demand, as reported in a preference survey.
Banking on Change is currently one of the largest programmes working with youth savings groups (YSGs). In Phase 1 of the programme, from 2009 to 2012, the focus was on savings groups more broadly; in Phase 2 we have focused on YSGs in Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Between June 2013 and December 2015 the programme established 11,725 YSGs with over 245,000 members, of whom 132,000 are under 25 and two-thirds are women.
Crime has become one of the main challenges threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries, according to UNDP’s Caribbean Human Development Report, with murder rates exceedingly high by world standards. Therefore, boosting citizen security is at the heart of our work in the region. And I knew that was going to be a big part of our work at UNDP Barbados and Eastern Caribbean when I joined the team three months ago.