This cross-cutting theme focuses on improving the effectiveness, sustainability, and scale of programs by sharing data on what works and what doesn’t, and methodologies for monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment.   Improved practices in this area promise to provide stakeholders with enhanced understanding of which interventions have meaningful impact, what the likely return on investment will be, and how to design and implement improved monitoring and evaluation initiatives.

Where are we now?

As the YEO field matures, pilot programs and anecdotal data have given way to increasingly sophisticated approaches to program measurement and learning. These advances are critical to scale, replication, policy and government partnership initiatives. However, more work remains. Confusion about the purpose and practice of monitoring, evaluation and assessment, and the way it can contribute to learning with an organization or program still exists.  A common language for this area along with standardized measures of cost and benefit are also necessary to ensure discussions are productive and evaluations reflect a common framework of practice.

Trends and emerging practices

  • Donors are advocating for more rigorous evaluation to ensure greater accountability and learning.
  • Although randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard, they can be expensive and time consuming, leading some donors to find quasi-experimental and impact evaluations very appealing, while others invest more significantly in M&E activities.
  • For corporations and foundations, evaluations are important to measure the social value proposition and social impact of their investments to consumers, customers, and employees.
  • More implementers are recognizing the importance of investing in good M&E, so they can demonstrate to donors their organization's social value proposition, particularly to impact investors.
  • More organizations are successfully using mixed methods approaches (both quantitative and qualitative data) to M&E.
  • Survey and focus group tools should be tested and finalized with young people for tools to achieve greater reliability and validity.
  • Data from young people should be triangulated with data from significant adults in their lives (such as parents, guardians, and teachers) to contextualize its meaning and importance.
  • More organizations are recognizing that existing M&E staff may not have the skills set required to engage young people, so training on how to conduct youth-inclusive M&E is important. 
  • Young people are not homogeneous, so questions need to be framed differently for young men and young women, youth from urban and rural communities, and/or youth from different socio-economic groups.


Webinar: Perspectives on Positive Youth Development

YouthPower Learning
Mar 11, 2016 (10:00am)

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is a guiding principle of USAID’s Youth in Development Policy. Both a philosophy and an approach, it is a paradigm shift in how we understand young people and how we provide youth services. But what exactly is PYD? How does it differ from traditional approaches to youth development? In what ways can you integrate PYD strategies into your own youth programming to improve outcomes in academic achievement, workforce readiness, positive health behaviors, increased civic engagement, and violence prevention? PYD experts Dr.

Knowledge Management Platform to Increase the Scale & Sustainability of Youth Economic Opportunity Programs: 2015 Results & 2016 Summit Sponsorship Information

Making Cents International

Meeting the needs of the global youth population requires evidence-based, scalable, and sustainable initiatives. In response, Making Cents International offers a demand-driven Knowledge Management (KM) platform that builds the capacity of youth development stakeholders to design, implement, and evaluate high-impact youth economic opportunity programs, policies, and partnerships. The platform components are:

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Workforce Connections Community of Practice: The Challenge of "Soft Skills" Measurement: Toward a Common Approach

Workforce Connections, FHI 360

There is widespread agreement among employers, international donors and youth development practitioners that “soft skills” (e.g. communications, teamwork, and problem-solving), are important for successful transition into adulthood and for success in the workplace. Research carried out in the US has highlighted the importance of noncognitive skills or character traits such as conscientiousness, self-regulation and perseverance on long-term success in education and in wages.

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Complex Paths: Supporting Mixed Livelihoods in Liberia

Mercy Corps

The Prospects program’s Employment and Entrepreneurship program seeks to improve employment outcomes for ‘work-ready’ youth in Liberia – young people of legal working age with at least some education who are seeking employment or self-employment. This paper explains how traditional concepts of ‘employment’ as a singular state do not apply in Liberia – rather, almost all young Liberians earn income from multiple sources, with a mixed livelihood or portfolio of work.

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Beyond the Muddle: What are Soft Skills or Workplace Competencies?

Workforce Connections, Child Trends, FHI 360

This presentation, presented by ChildTrends at Making Cents International's Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit, addresses Workforce Connection's research around the types of soft skills and character traits most relevant for positive youth development and success for employability. A significant activity in Workforce Connection has been to carry out research and build consensus around the types of soft skills and character traits that are most relevant for positive youth development and for success for employability or career/livelihood success. 


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Advancing Labor Market Assessments (LMA): PowerPoint Presentation

Workforce Connections

At its Advancing Labor Market Assessments event, held November 25, 2014, Workforce Connections presented: an inventory of existing tools and methods identified to date, a proposed decision tree for labor market analysis, and a summary of new “open source” tools currently in development. Speakers included Bryanna Mills, Eleanor Sohnen and Lara Goldmark.

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Measuring Employment Outcomes for Workforce Development: PowerPoint

Workforce Connections

Check out Workforce Connections' PowerPoint presentation from the Measuring Employment Outcomes for Workforce Development event held February 5, 2015.

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Labor Market Assessment Modules and Questions

Workforce Connections

The labor market assessment guide will assist users to analyze employment and workforce development in a given country for project design and policymaking. An introductory narrative will characterize existing frameworks and information useful for a labor market analysis.

Following the introduction, the guide will consist of modules to:

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Employment Sector Working Paper no. 27. Labour Market Information and Analysis for Skills Development

International Labour Office

Determining skill needs in labour markets is one of the central tasks facing manpower planners and labour market analysts, and the development of skills policies that meet these needs are a key instrument in the promotion of the Decent Work Agenda. This paper examines the role that labour market information and analysis can play to inform skills policies, both in terms of methods, and in terms of institutional arrangements that are established to translate information into policy action.

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Sector Competitiveness Analysis Tools: Reference Guide


The World Bank Sector Competitiveness Analysis Tools (SCAT) Reference Guide provides a step-by-step approach, using a framework and encyclopedic set of tools, to identify sectors and products with the most competitiveness potential, and then carry out public-private dialogue to analyze the gaps in a sector’s environment and come up with public, private and public-private action items. The guide draws extensively on data sources and techniques from the economics, trade, bu

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