Zimbabwe Labor Market Assessment
At the request of the USAID mission in Zimbabwe, the FHI 360 Workforce Connections team conducted a Labor Market Assessment (LMA) to systematically analyze the country’s labor market system to better inform USAID & DFID on youth employment and entrepreneurship programming.
Over the past decade, political and economic challenges in Zimbabwe have resulted in a structural shift from an economy based on large, stable, formal enterprises to an economy based on fragmented, fragile, informal enterprises. These economic challenges have produced a desperate workforce which relies increasingly on multiple sources of revenue.
There are at least three ways to work in a country to promote workforce development: systemic engagement of all stakeholders, livelihoods strengthening, and the “pockets of growth” approach. “Pockets of growth” was determined to be the best option for Zimbabwe as a means of achieving economic and employment development. “Pockets of growth” are new market demand opportunities with the following characteristics: a clear opportunity for growth, low policy constraints, strong leadership, a manageable group of market actors, and low investment requirements.
In addition to looking at the economic and employment landscape of Zimbabwe, the LMA team also analyzed the supply as well as the stock of the youth workforce. The LMA team evaluated the supply of and demand for skills in Zimbabwe, using the skills framework developed by the Workforce Connections team which simplifies the wide array of skills frameworks available into the categories of foundational skills, technical skills, and work readiness skills. The team confirmed that the workforce has high levels of foundational and technical skills; that soft skills are increasingly important to formal and informal employers; and that as the skill needs of the economy have changed, those with entrepreneurship skills have a higher chance of succeeding.
In terms of conclusions for how to align demand with supply of labor, it is clear that in the Zimbabwe context, growth-oriented activities need to be closely tied to workforce development interventions. Strengthening growing micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in promising sectors will help to increase employment opportunities for youth and will contribute to a better functioning economic environment.
It is also important to remember that there is no one sector experiencing growth in Zimbabwe and that heterogeneous population groups exhibit different profiles, needs, career paths and entry points. When focusing interventions on pockets of growth, it will be important to understand the target population segment and to analyze employment contexts, in order to develop tailored activities to boost enterprises, strengthen the workforce, or both. With this focus on pockets of growth, strengthening MSMEs, and providing tailored support for the different labor force profiles, programs can create a portfolio of targeted interventions that build a strong workforce from the bottom up.