Snapshot of Trends in USAID Workforce Development Programming
The Workforce Connections inventory is an evolving collaborative learning initiative in support of the project’s objective to generate, synthesize, and disseminate evidence. We examined a USAID-funded portfolio of $1.2 billion of projects awarded since 2008 that either have a workforce development focus or include workforce development as a significant component, by drawing from existing project databases and input from community of practice members. Based on this review, we present here a preliminary analytical snapshot.
Data captured by the inventory include:
- Implementation information: country, region, implementing organizations, funder, value, dates of implementation.
- Beneficiary populations: female or male, rural or urban, education status (in-school or out of school), age ranges.
- Workforce development components: technical skills training, soft skills training, entrepreneurship, farming and value chain development, reintegrating out of school youth, support for job placement, upgrading or modifying education, consultation and linkages with employers, and policy change.
Figure 1: Global USAID Workforce Development Portfolio
Comparing regions, we find relatively greater investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by the Middle East and North Africa, both in terms of number of projects and their value. These are followed by Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe and Central Asia.
Below we have broken down funding levels for the top 15 countries, in decreasing order of value from left to right. The number of projects are referenced at the top of each bar, while the overall value of those projects is represented along the vertical axis. For example, funding levels in West Bank/Gaza exceed those in Kenya, although a greater number of projects (11) have been implemented in Kenya. A clear trend that emerges is the prevalence of conflict-affected or post-conflict countries on the list.
Figure 2: Top country recipients of USAID WFD Funding
The inventory segments beneficiary populations according to age, education status, and geography. The most common age range to be served is 19-24 and 25+, followed closely by ages 14-18. Projects generally serve youth ages 14 and up.
Figure 3: Age Ranges of Beneficiaries
USAID youth workforce development programs typically include both in-school and out-of-school youth, and both urban and rural youth. More projects serve only out-of-school youth (50%) than those that serve only in-school youth (13%). 20% of projects serve only rural youth while 13% serve only urban youth.
Figure 4: Characteristics of Youth Beneficiaries
A review of intervention types among three regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, LAC, and MENA) reveals general commonalities as well as a number of differences. Generally speaking, projects focus on service provision and relatively few operate at the policy level, as can be seen in the following figures.
Sub-Saharan Africa shows a great concentration of projects in entrepreneurship and value chain development reflecting a significant emphasis on rural and agricultural development.
Figure 5: Interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Frequency
In MENA, programs have focused on entrepreneurship, soft skills, vocational skills, and employment linkages. Typically these programs are working with more highly educated youth, as compared to those in Sub-Saharan Africa, who are facing a lack of attractive jobs in their home countries due to a range of factors including demographic pressures, weak employment creation by the private sector, and/or conflict.
Figure 6: Interventions in the Middle East and North Africa, by Frequency
Latin America and the Caribbean has a greater focus on vocational skill development and reintegration (which generally entails working to reintegrate at-risk out-of-school youth into either school or work and training programs).
Figure 7: Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean, by Frequency
Methodology and Sources
Development of the inventory began with a review of existing project inventories from the USAID Office of Education and FHI 360. Based on that, we defined the typology of workforce development program components (including vocational skills, soft skills, employer input, policy, etc.) and designed the database. Workforce Connections then reached out to USAID implementing partners, through networks including the SEEP Network and the Alliance for International Youth Development to gather additional project information. We also consulted other resources, such as the Youth Employment Inventory.
Review, Contribute or Comment
The inventory is currently hosted on a searchable Excel database, which includes instructions and guidelines. To request the current inventory database, to submit project information, or related inquiries, please contact project staff or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite community of practice members to review, analyze, and comment. Workforce Connections will continue updating the inventory periodically and is now exploring options for adapting it to a more interactive or user-friendly format.