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.


Developing Social-Emotional Skills for the Labor Market

World Bank Group

Although there is a general agreement in the literature of the importance of social-emotional skills for labor market success, there is little consensus on the specific skills that should be acquired or how and when to teach them. The psychology, economics, policy research, and program implementation literatures all touch on these issues, but they are not sufficiently integrated to provide policy direction.

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Trauma Informed Community Building

Bridge Housing, Health Equity Institute
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Workforce Connections Key "Soft Skills" That Foster Youth Workforce Success: Toward a Consensus Across Fields

Workforce Connections, FHI 360, Child Trends

Soft Skills Key to Success for Youth Worldwide

New report identifies five most important “soft skills” that will help youth find and keep jobs

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Workforce Development Ecosystem Assessment Tool

RTI International

RTI International developed this tool for mapping complex workforce development systems and diagnosing their performance from a stakeholder perspective. RTI intentionally took an “institutionally agnostic” approach to this mapping, choosing to focus on functions and processes rather than certain institutions or individuals. RTI has piloted the tool in several regions and is now in the process of revising the data collection approach and the conceptual model.

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Labor Market Assessment Tools: Champion Validation

Workforce Connections

No one understands the dynamics of a workforce system better than the people who interact with it every day. Their unique insights allow them to react to labor market assessment data collected and suggest possible policy and program options and changes. Consulting with stakeholders and sector experts using a collaborative, structured exercise focuses the discussion around practical solutions to labor market challenges.

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Labor Market Assessment Tools: Causal Loop Modeling

Workforce Connections

A causal loop model is a free-form map that shows causal relationships between variables in a system. It originated in the field of system dynamics, and is used in applications ranging from engineering, to business, to international development.

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Advance Youth Employment with Structured Experiential Learning and Evaluative Thinking (part 2)

Save the Children

Following the first and second blog, this is part 2 of the conversation between Structured Experiential Learning (SEL) and Evaluative Thinking (ET), led by Save the Children, CRS and CORE. Let’s see what challenges we could have when applying SEL and ET, how SEL and ET can help in the change management process, and what resources they need. Applying Structured Experiential Learning (SEL) to a pre-mature M&E system could be a challenge. It is because SEL is built on tight feedback loops between generating and using data to inform project implementation decisions, for adaptive management.