Linking Workforce Development with Entrepreneurship
August 23, 2011 – 11:30 a.m.
||Sibylle Schmutz, SwissContact
Cornelia Janke, Education Development Center
Tim Haskell, Education Development Center
David Rurangirwa, USAID/Rwanda
Representing a private sector organization, Sibylle Schmutz spoke about SwissContact, an organization which aims to promote workforce development through skills development, enterprise development, and ecology, focused on four key issues to ensure labor market orientation: target group(s) and access & outreach, relevance and quality, embedded support, and sustainability. Target groups can include school drop-outs and persons with special needs, among others. Training outcomes must be relevant and training quality must favor the relationship between labor market demands and the requirements to meet those demands. Embedded support encompasses inclusion services, basic education skills, and soft skills, all of which have proven beneficial in preparing persons to enter the workforce. Sustainability approaches and solutions are found at the macro (government) and meso (private) levels. The Donor Committee Enterprise Development (DCED) Standard is a monitoring and evaluation framework allowing programs in development to measure results according to best practices.
Cornelia Janke from Education Development Center (EDC) presented on youth entrepreneurship, stating that this type of work requires a systems view alongside target interventions. A systems approach requires both short and long-term investments that have an impact on important sectors. Janke spoke to the importance of identifying different ways of connecting youth to the opportunities needed to successfully enter the labor force.
Tim Haskell of EDC spoke about the characteristics that strong systems must encompass - individual needs as well as institutional development. System characteristics include a diverse range of opportunities, flexible entry and exit points, and multiple pathways between education and work experience. Flexible entry and exit points are pivotal to make sure youth can choose their own path opting for additional training if they so desire. System elements of sustainability include shared costs and shared interests among partners, strong local ownership, and ties to the international community.
David Rurangirwa from USAID/Rwanda gave a brief overview of the Akazi Kanoze, or Job Well Done project. This project, implemented by EDC, is currently in its second year. The project offers increased livelihood opportunities for youth in addition to providing a support system. Akazi Kanoze works with government agencies and private sector partners to offer training in workforce development, entrepreneurship, English, and technical fields. Rurangirwa concluded the presentation with statistical evidence on the success of the Akazi Kanoziproject: 1,149 youth employed, 454 youth started cooperatives, and 646 university graduate interns were trained in workforce development.
Key take away points the session included the need to look systematically at school-to-workforce transition programs. This view is essential in addressing the relationship between individual needs and local demands. Workforce Development programs identify labor market orientation through the identification of target groups, relevance and quality, extended support and sustainability. Identifying these issues ensures youth receive proper training to acquire hard and soft skills necessary to secure employment.