Youth employment

ILO to increase evidence on what works for youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa

Press release | 17 March 2016
Geneva – The ILO’s Fund for Evaluation in Employment has announced winners of their annual competition to support impact research on youth and women’s employment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Having received 70 requests for assistance from 23 countries, the Fund will provide support of up to $685,000 to 7 results measurement projects and 7 impact research projects. The Fund is delivered under a project in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): “Strengthening gender monitoring, evaluation and mainstreaming in rural employment projects in the Middle East and North Africa”.

“The ILO-IFAD partnership is essential in strengthening the evidence basis on what works when it comes to gender mainstreaming in rural employment projects in the Near East and North Africa, “ says Abdelkarim Sma, Lead Regional Economist in the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division at IFAD.

The MENA region has the highest youth unemployment rates globally, at close to 30%. Unlike other regions, that rate has steadily increased since 2012, especially for young women.

This situation has created pressure on national governments and development partners to come up with solutions to get youth and women into work. Unfortunately the evidence on “what works” for youth and women’s employment in the region is weak – only a handful of rigorous studies to measure outcomes of youth employment projects have been released. “It is very hard for our partners in governments in the region to create effective policies on youth and women’s employment because they lack evidence on “what works”, says Drew Gardiner, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO’s Taqeem Initiative. “The Fund for Evaluation in Employment is designed to cross cut research and practice, giving decision makers tools for evidence-based policymaking on youth employment”.

Launched in 2010, the Fund for Evaluation aims to build evidence for effective design and implementation of youth employment and is delivered under the Taqeem Initiative, a technical support programme of the ILO in the MENA region. Five calls for proposals have been issued since 2010, resulting in over 550 proposals and the initiation of several impact evaluations and monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Studies on youth business training and credit in Uganda, entrepreneurship edutainment in Egypt, vocational education in Kenya and soft skills training in Morocco have been completed under the Fund.

“While the ILO sees the demand for evidence-based research in this area, it is also essential that researchers do understand better how the policy making process works,” Valter Nebuloni, Head of ILO’s Youth Employment Programme stresses. “Our constituents are often faced with the need to make quick decisions; they have to be supported by a comprehensive and readily available evidence base. This requires researchers to be in regular contact with policy makers and to communicate their findings effectively,” Mr. Nebuloni continues.

Among the new impact research are projects which will look at providing employment services, career counselling and job matching to Palestinian refugees; the evaluation of the impact of a network of social business incubators across the MENA region; a study to estimate impact of Tunisia’s new active labour market programmes for youth; and an initiative to open export markets to young Moroccan entrepreneurs. According to Dr. Nader Kabbani, Chief Program Officer at Silatech, “The Taqeem Initiative is a flagship product for our region which has a real need for evidence-based policies on youth labour markets”. Silatech has supported the Taqeem Initiative since its inception in 2011.

In addition to research work, the ILO Taqeem Initiative also supports capacity development of constituents on evidence-based policy making and launched its Executive Evaluation Course on Youth Employment in 2014. Taqeem also works directly with implementers and policy makers and will soon release a Regional Impact Research Agenda for Youth Employment and guidelines on measuring women’s empowerment by adapting the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index.

Taqeem is supported by Silatech and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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About Silatech
Silatech is a regional social initiative that works to connecting Arab youth to jobs and expand economic opportunities. The organization promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and markets, and the participation and engagement of young people in economic and social development. Since being founded in 2008, Silatech has financed over ‫120‬,000 youth-owned businesses, created or sustained over 200,000 jobs. Silatech currently has programs in 16 Arab countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Comoros, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

About the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

Abdelkarim Sma
Lead Regional Economist
Near East, North Africa and Europe Division
International Fund for Agricultural Development
Tel. (39) 06 5459 2500
a.sma@ifad.org