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Please complete both side of the index cards: Side 1: What are your expectations for this session? Side 2: What are some indicators for success in achieving your expectations?. When it comes to Youth Employability, “One-Sized Approaches” DO NOT fit All

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Please complete both side of the index cards:

Side 1: What are your expectations for this session?

Side 2: What are some indicators for success in achieving your expectations?

When it comes to Youth Employability, “One-Sized Approaches” DO NOT fit All

Eric Rusten, Senior Associate, Workforce Development

Linda Adami, Technical Manager, Communities in Transition

Magdalena Fulton, Senior Associate, Youth in Development

Driving Question

Can Workforce Education and Development Programs Enable Large Numbers of Marginalized and Disaffected (M&D) youth in crisis & conflict affected environments to Permanently Transformtheir Lives and Achieve Economic Empowerment?

Yes, if they are designed and executed well.

Okay! How do we achieve this at scale?

Video story youth transformation
Video Story: Youth Transformation

Youth Profile - Agustin Coroy

  • Former gang member

  • Father

  • Mentor

  • Employee

  • Activist

  • Model of success

Why are we concerned
Why are we concerned?

  • A workforce supply & demand disconnect

  • Economic crisis and distortions

  • The “youth bulge” a youth wave & dividend

  • Extreme unemployment & underemployment

  • Increasing inequality, poverty & human suffering

  • Social and civil unrest, conflict & war

  • Environmental crisis & climate change

  • Accelerating rates of change & feelings of losing control

  • Lower resilience in many human & natural systems

  • Five forces: a) globalization; b) technology; c) economic shifts; d) political change; & e) demographic shift

Blue Group Activity

Characteristics of Marginalized & Disaffected youth living in conflict & crisis affected environments or with internal crisis?


  • Marginalized youth are characterized by poverty, lack of formal education, few or no support mechanisms / networks, unsupportive or broken family structure, and lack of positive reinforcement. Yet marginalized youth have assets which they may be aware of and some perceived opportunities pulling towards both positive and negative risk-taking. Their expectations are largely unmet, however they generally express hope for a better future.

  • Disaffected youth are characterized by those mentioned above but compounded by additional losses which pull a young person towards greater negative risk-taking. There is a perceived or a real loss of support structures and supporting values; dignity; increase in humiliation; opportunities for education, work, inclusion; and positive risk-taking. In short, they lack hope for a better future.

What is workforce education development wed
What is Workforce Education & Development (WED)?

What are some characteristics & principles of WED Learning Systems?

  • Green Group Activity:

  • Who is part of the workforce?

  • What characteristics & principles of effective WED learning system are most important?

Select characteristics principles of effective wed systems
SelectCharacteristics &Principles of Effective WED Systems

  • Focuses on student learning with outcome measures

  • Learning integrates relevant technical, social-life, basic education & employability skills.

  • Fosters authentic, persistent and consistent caring of all

  • Connected to employers for relevant learning and jobs

  • Access to mentors and guided internships

  • Enables autonomy, mastery and purpose

  • Access to psychosocial and career counseling

  • Staff have strong technical & pedagogical skills

  • Uses self, peer and external assessment methods

  • Based on international standards and certification

Conventional view of wed systems
Conventional View of WED Systems

Higher Education System



Basic Education System


Workforce Training Providers



What is missing?

What is missing
What is missing…


  • With connections & relationships to other people, civil society, communities, & the environment

  • As decision makers who seek autonomy, mastery & purpose in their lives

  • As individuals with talents, potentials, desires, challenges, needs & dreams

  • WED should NOT happen to people; people should drive the systems

  • WED competencies cannot be given, they can only be learned.

Creative s view
Creative’s View

WED systems are ecosystems comprised of people, organizations, governments, programs & the environment that enables individuals to make choices and to gaina mix of capabilities, skills, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs, over time, that can empower them to: realize their potential; createsustainable livelihoods; develop rewarding careers; establish healthy families & relationships; be creative and innovative; grow a country’s economy; and pursuehappiness and purpose in their lives.

WED Systems in Action

  • Central America–Enabling at risk youth to access alternatives

  • Morocco, India, Cambodia – Dropout mitigation

  • Mozambique – Enabling OVCs to transform their lives

  • Brazil – Enabling economic empowerment by young women living in crisis environments

  • South Africa – Enabling unemployed college graduates to secure quality jobs and build careers

CASE: Enabling At-Risk Youth to Transition to Positive Futures

The Creative-implemented AJR USAID/SICA project seeks to reduce youth gang activity in Central America.

Wed to reduce violence in central america
WED to Reduce Violence in Central America

  • Change perceptions via Challenge 10 Reality TV Show

  • Challenge 100 Job Placement Program

    • Identifying ex-gang members

    • Evaluating psychological state & capacity of ex-gang members

    • Providing individual, group & family counseling and psychosocial support

    • tattoo removal

    • job skills learning & job placement

    • follow up with youth >> 100% success rate

  • Employability & Entrepreneurship

    • English language

    • Computer use and repair

    • Graphic Design

    • Electricity

    • Microenterprise development

Youth outreach centers
Youth Outreach Centers

  • Safe spaces for youth living in marginalized areas plagued by endemic violence and crime.

  • Formed through an alliance between churches, municipal governments and the community to reduce the risk factors for vulnerable youth.

  • Responsive to the needs and desires for youth.

  • Features of Outreach Centers:

  • Positive use of free time

  • Vocational skills learning

  • Referral services

  • School retention initiatives

  • Life skills learning

  • Volunteerism

Strategies to achieve scale with quality
Strategies to Achieve Scale with Quality

  • eMentoring & Guided internships

  • PBL, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose w/ flexible curricula

  • School to job and career transitions

  • Youth driven research/learning – MOM, CYM,

  • Youth managed/owned outreach/learning centers

  • FUN – sports, drama, music, competition, journalism, etc.

  • Reflective learning & identity building

  • Provider/Employer partnerships

  • Accelerated learning–communication, literacy, numeracy, languages

  • Engaging with families and the larger community

  • Preparing learning facilitators & ongoing PD

  • Long-term (5+ years) impact/results assessments

  • Using enabling technologies to accelerate learning & increase reach

Critical challenges
Critical Challenges

  • Preparing WED staff to engage M&D youth & to use project-based learning methods

  • Establishing & sustaining strong links among WED providers and employers

  • Integrating social/life, basic education & employability skills into WED systems

  • Providing psychosocial support and authentic, persistent & consistent caring for all

  • Improving the structure, duration & delivery of existing WED learning programs

  • Documenting the ROI/SROI of effective WED systems

Concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts

  • M&D youth must have authentic decision making roles in designing & implementing WED learning systems

  • WED systems must focus on learning to enable permanent transformation not just immediate short-term results

  • Quality WED systems create authentic durable partnerships with all stakeholders

  • Quality WED systems are responsive to learners and local contexts

  • Others?

Thank you

To learn more:

Linda Adami

Technical Manager

[email protected]


Magda Fulton

Senior Associate

[email protected]


Eric Rusten

Senior Associate

[email protected]



  • Overcomes geographic, time, socio-economic barriers

  • Use email, IM and phones for mentoring relationship

  • Rich professional network to learn

  • Powerful support for youth

  • Professional communication & problem solving

  • Heterogeneous network; positive reinforcing

  • Facilitates transition into a new world

  • “If they think I’m worth something maybe I am.”























Integrating increases impact
Integrating Increases Impact


Steps for successful inclusion


Steps for Successful Inclusion

Permanent social inclusion & employability requires creating and growing positive, attitudes, learning and professional networks


Youth’s Environment

Employability Program

Sustainable Positive Future


Civil Society

Professional Network





Learning Systems






Professional Network

Civil Society