An 18 year-old young woman tailors a custom dress at the Princess Jasmine Boutique in Lampung Indonesia. As part of Save the Children’s Skills to Succeed program, she completed a 2-month training program at the International Garment Center and an internship for one month. This is her first job. Photo Credit Susan Warner/Save the Children 2013.

An 18 year-old young woman tailors a custom dress at the Princess Jasmine Boutique in Lampung Indonesia. As part of Save the Children’s Skills to Succeed program, she completed a 2-month training program at the International Garment Center and an internship for one month. This is her first job. 

Youth Employment

Save the Children’s youth employment programs equip deprived and at-risk adolescents and youth with the skills and job linkages they need to find decent jobs or build their own businesses so that they can make a successful transition to adulthood — and break the cycle of poverty. Our youth employment programs offer employability skills, entrepreneurship and vocational training, on-the-job training, career counseling and job linkage and business startup services to young women and men aged 14-24, living in urban and peri-urban communities. We base our programs on the needs of the labor markets, on the one hand, and the needs of the youth, on the other. Since 2011, we have assisted nearly 50,000 young migrants, refugees, young mothers, youth dwelling in slums, youth working in hazardous conditions, and youth at risk of prostitution and trafficking in Bangladesh, China, India, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, and Vietnam. By 2018, we aim to reach 200,000 youth.

Our strategies include:

  • Training and supporting youth at scale
  •  Learning and tailoring our programs by building an evidence base through information and communications technology (ICT) and research
  • Building partnerships for sustainability to help employ even more at-risk and vulnerable youth

Our youth employment approach integrates a menu of employability and entrepreneurship skills training with vocational training. Training is delivered through public and private school systems for in-school youth and through non-governmental organizations for out-of-school youth. Our programs follow a four step process:

  1. Recruiting at-risk and vulnerable youth who would benefit from the program and identifying labor market demand for youth employees;
  2. Enrolling and preparing youth through market-relevant training and counseling;
  3. Providing them opportunities to be placed in jobs, apprenticeships, internships or self-employment;
  4. Tracking them to monitor their employment status and working conditions.

Once enrolled, all students receive employability skills training and then they choose either the job pathway or the entrepreneurship pathway. This flexibility allows youth to choose the training offerings, job linkage and self-employment networks and opportunities that better fit their own needs.

In Bangladesh, our youth employment programs have also focused on engaging informal and formal sector employers directly to improve workplace conditions for youth.

Our partners include ministries and government offices of education, labor, technical and vocational education and training, and employment services; local government authorities; academic institutions; local organizations and service providers; socially responsible employers, trade associations, corporations and entrepreneurs; human resources companies and online job portals; and parents’ and youth associations.

Research Agenda

In addition to providing youth employment programs for young people, we also have an ambitious research goal of testing and identifying effective approaches to youth employment programming. Our Skills to Succeed program has raised funds to address knowledge gaps through monitoring and evaluation, and research. For instance, alongside our routine monitoring efforts, we led a randomized controlled trial in Indonesia from 2013-2014 that found that requiring deprived and at risk female and male youth in Bandung, Indonesia to cover 25% of their tuition led to substantially lower enrollment in vocational schools and higher dropout rates. Our findings have fed back into the program’s design and implementation choices and we continue to pursue a data-driven approach to guide strategic decision-making. Over the 2015-2018 period, we have identified other knowledge gaps that we seek to address via rigorous impact evaluations. These include evaluating the effect of increased financial capability and savings on youth employment outcomes, and determining the best mix of channels (face-to-face, e-learning, etc.) to deliver education that boosts employability and entrepreneurship skills.

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