Skills development is an essential element in improving the employability and potential productivity of the working poor and can be an important tool for reducing poverty and exclusion and enhancing competitiveness and employability. Education and skills can enable the working poor and vulnerable groups, such as persons in rural communities, persons with disabilities, or disadvantaged youth to escape the vicious circle of inadequate education, poor training, low productivity and poor quality jobs with low wages. Women in these groups typically face additional difficulties or discrimination in accessing good quality training and using it to secure better work.
The ILO has developed a body of knowledge on skills development in the informal economy. Currently the ILO’s work in the area of skills development for poverty reduction focuses on extending training in rural communities, on upgrading informal apprenticeship systems (see Skills for youth employment) and meeting the special needs of Africa to improve skills development and employability.
The ILO’s Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) Programme is a proven platform that assists those working in poor rural communities to build the skills and abilities for employment and income generation. Starting with institutional arrangements and planning among partner organizations at the national and local levels, a TREE programme aims to systematically identify potential economic opportunities at the community level, design and deliver community-based training programmes through local public and private training providers; and provide the necessary post-training support like access to credits and markets.