Leveraging Labor Market Assessment Tools to Address the Youth Unemployment Challenge
Global employment is a challenge that is daunting both in its scale and its complexity. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, formal job creation is low and official youth unemployment is high, yet the labor force grows by roughly 8 million people every year. Given these conditions, development practitioners are looking for ways to better understand labor markets to optimize approaches and inform programmatic decisions.
USAID’s Workforce Connections (WC) is a program that promotes evidence-based learning and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange with the goal of improving the capacity of USAID and its industry partners to deliver quality workforce development programming. One of WC’s activities has been the creation of labor market assessment (LMA) tools. These tools have been used to help inform program design in Lebanon, Kenya, and, most recently, in Zimbabwe, where the LMA team assessed overall economic trends and patterns, the resulting demand for skills, and the supply of workers and skills. LEAD Trust assisted WC in the assessment by supporting the team on the ground in Zimbabwe, in obtaining interviews and with logistics.
This Microlinks seminar presented the Zimbabwe case as a means of sharing some of the tools and approaches involved in carrying out a LMA. The session was also an opportunity to provide feedback on these tools and approaches and to discuss labor market assessments more broadly.
Eleanor (Nora) Sohnen is a workforce and labor market policy ex
pert with over 13 years of experience in communications and international development. She has collaborated with a wide range of international and domestic stakeholders in the public, private, philanthropic, and research sectors on labor market assessment and workforce development projects. She has authored several publications on workforce development, labor market integration of migrants, and international migration (with a particular focus on evolving skills demands and credentialing within economic sectors).
Lara Goldmark is currently Director of Private Sector Inno
vations at FHI 360 and is responsible for a portfolio of projects, including USAID's Workforce Connections, launched in October 2013, for which she serves as Project Director. Lara recently worked with the FSG Gold Fields mining project in Peru to develop a shared value strategy (shared value opportunities increase business competitiveness while achieving social impact). Prior to this assignment, Lara managed DAI’s portfolio of Private Sector Development projects, served as Chief of Party for USAID’s Improving the Business Climate Program in Morocco, and founded a DAI subsidiary in Brazil. Lara has taught enterprise development courses at Columbia and Johns Hopkins, and authored or edited several publications, including a book on microfinance in Latin America, an article in World Development on micro- and small enterprise growth, and most recently, a volume entitled “The Jobs Challenge: Fresh Perspectives on the Global Employment Crisis.”
Tadzoka (Taka) Pswarayi, a Zimbabwean citizen with exp
erience in the US and Spain, was the Youth Consultant on FHI 360’s Workforce Connections Zimbabwe Labor Market Assessment. She is also involved in developing a Youth Talent Cloud for Workforce Connections, a platform to engage and build the capacity of young workforce development professionals. Taka co-founded Inini Face Couture, a company that markets environmentally friendly, organic and fair trade products, and works as a research and writing consultant. Her prior experience includes a World Bank survey on small town economic development and advocacy for SOS Children’s Villages. She is a Skills for Life Trust Board Member as well as a Tech Women Zimbabwe Volunteer.