State of the Field Report: Examining the Evidence in Youth Workforce Development

Speeches Shim


This paper, commissioned by USAID’s Office of Education in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and the Environment (USAID/E3/ED), provides information on the latest research and evaluation of workforce development programming for youth. While the focus is on work done in developing countries, results from a handful of particularly relevant studies in the United States are also included. First, the paper presents a framework for guiding the interpretation of the impact that workforce development has on youth outcomes. An analysis of the trends in the field that increase positive youth employment outcomes is also included. Next, the paper provides the latest evidence of what works in achieving these outcomes, along with a discussion of gap areas in need of further investigation. Finally, conclusions designed to assist USAID/E3/ED in setting priorities for future research and evaluation efforts are presented.

USAID/E3/ED will use this information to create a youth-focused research and evaluation agenda in support of the USAID Education Strategy Goal 2: “Improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to produce a workforce with relevant skills to support country development goals by 2015.” This agenda will inform the design of future USAID workforce development programs based on evidence, and will also guide USAID Missions in designing their evaluations of youth workforce development programs. USAID has made great strides toward ensuring that its programs are based on strong evidence through publication of its recent Project Design Guidance and Evaluation Policy, which discuss the importance of incorporating strong monitoring and evaluation techniques into program design (USAID, 2011c).

USAID also intends to use this research and evaluation agenda in coordination with other donors, governments, practitioners, and youth stakeholders to build up an evidence base around youth workforce development. Two other briefing papers have also been written on the topics of youth education in conflict and crisis environments and holistic, cross-sectoral youth development (USAID, 2013a & b). 


Last updated: May 07, 2019