Employment Seminar Series

Aspirations and the Future of Work: Global Evidence

  • Eleonora Nillesen, Professor of Public Policy and Development, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance
  • Micheline Goedhuys, Senior Research Fellow, UNU-Merit
  • Drew Gardiner, Youth Employment Specialist, ILO (EMPLOYMENT)
Discussant: Christina J. Colclough, Director of Platform and Agency Workers, Digitalization and Trade, UNI Global Union

Chair: Sangheon Lee, Director, EMPLOYMENT

In order for young people to benefit from the rapidly changing world of work, they need to be prepared, both in terms of their capabilities and the level of their ambition and aspiration. Recent literature suggests that aspirations are a critical catalyst in the formation of occupational choices and labour market outcomes. However there is no clear evidence on the nature and extent of young people’s career aspirations and how they match to the current and future demand for jobs. In this context, the Employment Policy Department commissioned the United Nations University in Maastricht to conduct a literature and data review on the topic. The findings are expected to lead to new policy responses on how labour market institutions can assist young people in realizing their aspirations.

Dr. Eleonora Nillesen
Dr. Eleonora Nillesen is professor of public policy and development at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. She holds a PhD in development economics from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Prior to joining UNU-MERIT in 2014 she has held positions at Wageningen University, ETH Zürich and DIW Berlin. Her research focuses on the causal impacts of development policies and interventions, specifically in poor and fragile environments. She uses (quasi) experimental designs and observational data to examine the impact of development programs and policies, and identify the role of (in)formal institutions and leadership as drivers of information diffusion and technology adoption. She has published on these topics in leading economics journals, including The American Economic Review, Journal of Development Economics and Journal of Public Economics. Eleonora currently runs research projects in DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico and Tunisia. Eleonora has served as a consultant to the World Bank, UNDP and UNICEF on various occasions and is a member of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3IE) expert’s roster. She is also affiliated with the Graduate School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University; the International Security and Development Center in Berlin; the Global Labor Organization and the Households in Conflict Network.

Dr. Micheline Goedhuys
Dr. Micheline Goedhuys Is senior research fellow at the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Micheline is an expert on employment, entrepreneurship, SME development and growth in the MENA region and Sub-Sahara Africa and on impact evaluation of interventions in this area. She has published in various high-ranked internationally peer reviewed journals including the Journal of Development Economics and World Development. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Leuven in Belgium and has held previous positions at the ILO in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where she coordinated projects for the East African region and did research on employment creation and employment quality. She was recently involved in a number of research projects related to youth employment in Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt and Tunisia, including an IFAD-funded study to measure empowerment in Tunisia as part of the ILO Taqeem Initiative and is currently setting up an AFD funded study to evaluate the impact of an urban infrastructure development program of the Tunisian Ministry of Housing (MEHAT).

Drew Gardiner
Drew Gardiner is a Youth Employment Specialist and a member of the Global Technical Team of the ILO’s Employment Policy Department. From 2015-2018, he was the Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO-IFAD partnership “Taqeem Initiative: What works in youth employment”, where he coordinated a series of studies investigating the causal impacts of labour market interventions targeting rural women and youth in the MENA region. He is an accomplished researcher, speaker and adviser on monitoring, evaluation and results-based management. Drew has mobilized and managed a portfolio of labour market programmes on skills, entrepreneurship and job creation across Africa and the Middle East working with stakeholders from UN, private sector and government. Drew has a MBA specializing in development economics from the University of Geneva.