Youth, Agriculture, and Technology
Information and communications technology (ICT) — including mobile phones, computers, video, and radio — have been shown to help expand financial services to youth. Use of such technology can present buying and selling platforms for young entrepreneurs, disseminate market information, provide helplines for young farmers, improve farm management practices, and provide training and education through distance learning. While there appears to be a great deal of research on how ICTs foster agricultural development, not much of this research focuses specifically on youth. One landscape review suggests that girls tend to be under-represented in accessing mobile technology. Overall, more rigorous evaluation is needed to ascertain the cost-effectiveness of ICT interventions in agriculture.
This practical handbook provides a guide for aspiring young ICT entrepreneurs to help them set up businesses that address challenges in the agricultural sector. Governments, private-sector firms, non-governmental organisations, and especially young people are increasingly viewing the intersection of ICTs and agriculture as a way to tackle global youth unemployment. This guide sets out to provide young people with the business skills and knowledge needed to launch successful start-ups. The handbook is also aimed at incubators and institutions that support young entrepreneurs to develop their skills. Taking a hands-on approach, the guide provides a number of case studies, as well as practical advice from young entrepreneurs.
The landscape review identified 80 initiatives, organizations, projects, products, and services, in addition to approximately 275 publicly available documents, related to efforts that support mobiles for youth workforce development (mYWD). The review also involved key informant interviews with 30 experts and practitioners in various fields, including ICT and workforce development. While it covers the range of employment and skills development opportunities for youth, agriculture is a prominent sector covered by this extensive report. One major finding of the review is that while there is a great deal of research on how ICTs foster agricultural development, little of this research focuses specifically on youth. Among the other findings is that mobiles for youth in agriculture include helping youth access financial services, creating buying and selling platforms, and providing helplines for farmers. Mobile supports radio programming in the rural agriculture industry by making it more accurate, timely, and accessible to listeners. Mentoring is a critical element in successful entrepreneurship and business development efforts, especially for girls and young women, who are seriously underrepresented in technology fields.
This report examines trends in the use of information and communication technologies for workforce development and youth employment programs (ICT4WD). Through a desk review and in-depth examination of 17 comparative case studies, the paper identifies benefits and challenges associated with ICT4WD. One of the case studies (#8) features an evaluation study that found online distance learning to be as effective as face-to-face training in enabling farmers in Cambodia to expand their knowledge of agricultural techniques.
An Examination of MOOC Usage for Professional Workforce Development Outcomes in Colombia, the Philippines, & South Africa
This report illuminates the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) landscape in developing countries to better understand the motivations of MOOC users, and the research offers insights on the advantages and limitations of using MOOCs for workforce development outcomes. Drawing from literature and interviews with government agencies, academic institutions, and employers, as well as 3,654 individuals in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa — some of whom participated in MOOCs, and others of whom did not — the study found that many MOOC users come from low- and middle-income backgrounds with varying levels of education and technology skills. Completion rates also appear to be relatively high. Among non-users, lack of time was by far the largest barrier to MOOC participation; lack of computer access or skills was not found to be a barrier. Computer sciences, language, and business & management were the three most popular MOOC subjects across the three countries; agriculture-specific courses were not identified in this study.