Skills Development and Agriculture Education and Training (AET) for Youth

A growing body of evidence captures successful approaches for upgrading youth skills across all contexts and sectors, with some covering rural areas and the agriculture sector. Generally speaking, investing in youth skills development pays off with positive impacts, particularly on employment and earnings outcomes. This impact does not take effect immediately and is more pronounced among low- and middle-income countries than among high-income countries. Moreover, the effects vary greatly between program type, design and context, indicating the need for careful design of youth employment interventions. Evidence also suggests that the targeting of disadvantaged youth may act as a key factor for success.

Effective youth skills development programs have several common features: They offer multiple pathways for learning and employment, focus on employer and market demand for skills, use applied learning methods, and offer follow-on services and supports that link youth with tangible employment or self-employment. For agriculture specifically, skills transfer effectively occurs in work-based learning venues such as farmer field schools, on-site employer-based training, internships, volunteer opportunities, and co-curricular youth organizations. Soft skills (such as social skills, positive self-concept, self-control, communication skills and higher-order thinking) are as important to success in the workplace as technical or agricultural-specific skills, including in the agriculture sector where ever-changing global demands require flexibility and adaptation. And even though a skill might be developed in an agriculture or workforce setting, evidence shows that youth apply many of these skills (e.g. problem solving, planning ahead, and negotiations) in other aspects of their life, including conflict mitigation and health and nutrition. These findings highlight the benefits of a cross-sectoral approach to working with youth in agriculture.
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has indicated that cash transfers may be just as effective as active labor market interventions for increasing youth incomes and employment, at least in the short term, and possibly at a lower cost per participant. Some evidence suggests that cash transfers combined with skills development delivers the greatest impact. More evidence is needed on the comparative long-term effects. More attention is also needed on evaluating the cost-effectiveness of different skills development interventions for different youth segments, and across different agriculture sectors and functions, as most of the evidence is not necessarily specific to the agriculture sector.

Interventions to Improve Labour Market Outcomes of Youth: A Systematic Review of Training, Entrepreneurship Promotion, Employment Services and Subsidized Employment Interventions

This seminal systematic review investigates the impact of youth employment interventions on the labour market outcomes of young people. The systematic review and meta-analysis is based on evidence from 113 counterfactual-based impact evaluations of 107 active labour market programmes in 31 low-, middle- and high-income countries. It covers labor market programs in both agriculture and non-agriculture sectors. Overall, empirical results indicate that investing in young people through active labour market programmes pays off with positive impacts, particularly on employment and earnings outcomes. This impact does not take effect immediately and is more pronounced among low- and middle-income countries than among high-income countries. Moreover, the effects vary greatly between programme types, designs and contexts, indicating the need for careful design of youth employment interventions, and that the targeting of disadvantaged youth may act as a key factor for success.

The Private Sector and Youth Skills and Employment Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) To provide a comprehensive look at the way the private sector is involved in youth skills and employment in low- and middle-income countries, considering the broad range of program types and firm types; (2) To present and interpret the available evidence of the effectiveness of this involvement; and (3) To understand where the private sector has been most effective at promoting young people’s labor market success, and what can be done to enhance the role of the private sector to achieve this objective. One of the report’s many findings is that it acknowledges the scaling potential of youth-inclusive agriculture value chains and entrepreneurship, but also notes the relatively little evidence to date on the impact of youth-inclusive agriculture value chain interventions.

The Fruit and Vegetables Global Value Chain. Economic Upgrading and Workforce Development

This report shows the shift of fruit and vegetable preparation from rural households to the urban kitchen and highlights the new skills and global standards required of workers and suppliers in developing countries to meet the needs of global supermarkets. Five countries are covered in this report: Honduras, Chile, Kenya, Morocco, and Jordan. While not specific to youth, this research illustrates ways to understand the changing demand for skills that is relevant to young labor market entrants in an agri-food system serving global markets.

Key “Soft Skills” that Foster Youth Workforce Success: Toward Consensus Across Fields

Soft skills are skills, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and personal qualities that enable youth to navigate their environment, work with others, perform well, and achieve their goals. Through an extensive and systematic literature review, as well as consultations and focus group discussions with stakeholders, this study identified five key soft skills that — according to researchers, employers, youth, and program implementers — best enable youth (15-29) worldwide to be successful in the workplace. It is not specific to agriculture, but rather presents a set of generalizable soft skills that are relevant in today’s global world.

Guiding Principles for International Youth Development

This collaborative effort of AIYD members highlights definitions and effective practices for positive youth development across sectors. The guiding principles are organized into the following sections: Cross‐Cutting Principles (e.g. gender, conflict, disability), Youth Engagement, Youth & Learning, Youth & Economic Opportunity, and finally, Youth & Health. Each section includes a definition, several guiding principles, illustrative indicators for measuring progress, and a list of recommended resources. Some sections highlight emerging areas of youth development research, such as adolescent brain development, while others provide a formal definition for common concepts in the field, such as gender-based violence.

Promising Practices in Youth Workforce Development: “The Seven Virtues”

This three-page technical brief summarizes the key elements of effective youth skills development programs: multiple pathways for learning and employment, focus on employer demand for skills, use of applied learning methods, offering follow-on services and supports, engaging a broad range of stakeholders, supplementing training with self-employment coaching and support, and monitoring and evaluating results.

Farmer Field Schools for Improving Farming Practices and Farmer Outcomes: A Systematic Review

This systematic review offers evidence on the impact of farmer field schools (FFS). It synthesizes quantitative evidence on intervention effects using statistical meta-analysis, and qualitative evidence on the barriers and enablers of effectiveness using a theory of change framework. Roughly 25% of projects covered by this review targeted youth, and 50% targeted women. In spite of the small base of rigorous impact evaluation, the research suggests that FFS are beneficial in improving intermediate outcomes relating to knowledge and adoption of beneficial practices, as well as final outcomes relating to agricultural production and farmers’ incomes. Some evidence suggests FFS programs should target younger farmers, those with greater land endowments, and women (favoring those with relatively low opportunity costs of labor and/or farmers with relatively high pesticide costs). Yet the research also suggests field schools are less effective if women are from households where they are not in a decision-making position, or when youth are not able to dedicate their time to the FFS plot or their agricultural fields.

Equipping Young People to Make a Change in Agriculture. 2017 Internal Review of YPARD’s Pilot Mentoring Program

This desk review explores the strengths and limitations of four mentoring approaches adopted by the 15,000-member Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD): face-to-face mentoring, online mentoring, global conference mentoring, and peer mentoring and coaching. This report is one of the first comprehensive explorations of the impact that mentoring can have both on young and senior agricultural professionals. It presents case studies and data exploring the impact mentoring is having in the lives of young people and their communities, and provides a set of practical recommendations on how to implement effective youth mentoring programs in the agriculture sector.

Rediscovering Leadership and Career Growth in Co-Curricular Youth Organizations

The four-page thematic study summarizes the role of co-curricular youth organizations (e.g. the National FFA Organization and 4-H) that teach technical agricultural skills in a structured format with hands-on application of those skills. Approaches include competitive events, proficiency awards, leadership development, and community involvement.

Developing the Capacity of Middle-Level Tertiary Education in Preparing and Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa

The purpose of this literature review is to frame the current state of affairs of middle-level tertiary institutions that offer academic programs to train entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis involves a desktop review of literature in the context of the Feed the Future (2010) initiative to achieve sustainable food security, reduce poverty, promote rural innovation and stimulate employment by building human and institutional capacity. It focuses on the state of educational institutions and their curriculum.

Bangladesh Youth Employment Pilot (BYEP) Program Description & Assessment Findings

This report summarizes the findings of one of USAID’s first youth and agriculture assessments, focusing on youth employment opportunities in the freshwater prawn sector in Bangladesh. It then proposes several design recommendations for an 18-month pilot project to train and place 360 youth in jobs in the sector. Results of the pilot are summarized in a two-page brief.

Youth & Transferable Skills Evidence Gap Map

The Youth and Transferable Skills evidence gap map (EGM) provides easy access to the best available evidence on the outcomes of transferable skills programming for youth in low- and middle-income countries and to highlight important gaps in this evidence base. Transferable skills, often referred to as soft, non-cognitive or life skills, provide youth with the tools and confidence to succeed in terms of employment, health and personal well-being. Interventions were mapped in seven thematic areas including formal education, extra-curricular activities, pedagogy, skills training, work placement, alternative learning pathways, and financial support. Outcomes of these interventions were categorized into individual learning and behaviour outcomes, academics, employment, livelihoods and demography outcomes, and institutional outcomes. The tool does not allow for navigation specific to the agriculture sector.

Youth Employment Evidence Gap Map

Developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the gap map is an interactive platform to explore the impact of 107 interventions on employment, earnings and business performance outcomes. Although much of the literature pertains to rural and agricultural contexts, the tool does not allow for navigation specific to the agriculture sector.

Employment Training & Placement Toolkit

This toolkit is primarily for program managers of employability or entrepreneurship training and services programs targeting youth in Africa. Based on experiences in Kenya and Rwanda, the toolkit presents profiles of jobs in three sectors — ICT, health, and agriculture — and provides detailed training information and exercises to help youth secure formal employment or to start their own businesses. It covers the following agriculture job functions: cooperative manager, agriculture information services agent, organic farming, agriculture input sales, storekeeper/ inventory officer, production assistant, and junior production manager.