Links I liked

After some procrastination I decided to take up blogging more frequently. I have recently accepted a job which allows me to focus full time on youth employment. I hope to share some of my experiences on a more regular basis.

For now, three links I liked:

1) One of the better articles I have been reading on youth employment so far, authored by four very talented colleagues from the Institute of Development Studies. Their main argument is that under- and unemployment of youth is hardly a supply-driven problem (e.g. lack of access to capital, skills and networks), but instead is a consequence of demand-side and structural constraints.

One of the reasons I believe so many projects only want to look at the supply-side is because it is simply more easy. Training 10.000 potential entrepreneurs can be molded in a project, whereas trying to create an enabling environment and quality jobs is a whole other ballgame.

The authors mention supporting family farming, stimulating apprenticeships and public works programmes such as in India as possible entry-points. But the first two options will hardly contribute to employment creation either, and the impact of public works programmes is still debated.

Demand creation probably requires a more elusive approach. Again, perhaps we focus on economic projects on the micro-level because we have not truly figured out yet how to create productivity increases and competitive advantages within sectors and the national economy, and with that job creation (although these are some solid attempts, for those of you interested: A, B and C).

2) A great paper on the effect of land inheritance on youth employment and migration decisions, based on evidence from rural Ethiopia:

The results reaffirm the notion that push factors dominate pull factors in dictating occupational and migration decisions in Ethiopia and highlight youth preferences to use migration or non-agricultural employment as a last resort after exhausting other means of accessing land, such as temporary land rental.

This goes against the prevailing narrative that a) rural youth want to move to the cities and b) prefer non-agricultural activities. It reminds me of a recent study in Morocco, co-authored by my colleague Ingrid Flink, which concludes that the majority of the young people interviewed said they desired to stay and make a decent living in their home villages and communities.

3) There has been quite some hype in recent years around business innovation hubs in developing countries. This article in the Economist paints a bit of a sobering picture, claiming “only one incubator on the continent is profitable without grants”. I am not very much concerned about the fate of the business hubs per se, but it is troublesome if taken as an indicator of the success rate of its members (the hub only thrives if its members do).

And then two jobs I came across:
Program Officer, Youth Opportunity and Learning (East Africa – Ford Foundation /closed but contact me if interested)
Associate Global Practice Specialist, Workforce Development and Youth (US – DAI)

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