What is Work4Youth?

The Work4Youth Project is a five-year partnership between the ILO and The MasterCard Foundation that aims to promote decent work opportunities for young men and women through knowledge and action.

A model for Public Private Partnership (PPP)

The “W4Y” project is an example of a Public Private Partnership. The idea behind the partnership started in 2010 based on conversations between colleagues of the ILO and The MasterCard Foundation who were able to find commonalities in their respective missions in the area of youth employment. The two sides decided to put their heads together to create a project document that would be appealing to both sides. The proposal proved an interesting fit with The MasterCard Foundation’s vision to “to create, connect, or expand economic opportunities for young people”, in this case, through an improved global knowledge base. The recognition is that we cannot advise our constituents on how to create jobs for youth until we understand better first what young people want in terms of career paths and quality of work, what employers want in terms of young applicants, what are the blockages that prevent the supply and demand from meeting and what are the policies and programmes that can have a real impact. The project has a budget of US$ 14.6 million and a duration of five years.

A research agenda

Believe it or not, after all the attention placed on the area of youth employment over the last ten years, we still have many unanswered questions regarding the nature of youth employment. For example, we still cannot pinpoint exactly what it is about the modern labour market that makes the transition to decent work difficult for so many young people. What has changed? Is there an inevitability to have an increasing number of young people stuck in precarious employment that they are over-qualified for? Who is doing better than others?

Back in 2004, the ILO responded to the information gap by developing the school-to-work transition survey (SWTS). The survey was implemented in ten countries between 2004 and 2006, and then the development and implementation of the tool stalled. Partnering with The MasterCard Foundation has given us a great opportunity to improve the tool and to apply it on a large scale. As such, we will be implementing the SWTS in 28 target countries over the course of the five-year partnership.

See school-to-work transition surveys
See progress report on target countries

An innovative labour market information system

The W4Y project will build a database around the results of the SWTS, providing end-users access to both micro-datasets and the transition indicators from which to generate their own research. We expect to have lots of interest on the sides of academia, international organizations and national policy-makers. We are already in discussion with the ILO Turin Training Centre for developing a course for our constituents on labour market analysis and youth employment policy design from the SWTS micro datasets.

See databases

An important tool in the Youth Employment Programme's intervention model for youth policy development

The W4Y project itself will not create jobs for young people. Nor will it generate effective youth employment policies. What it will do, however, is serve as the intermediary tool from which ILO colleagues can work with constituents in the area of policy design. The Youth Employment Programme (YEP)’s country intervention model envisages data collection and the establishment of a knowledge base as the foundation to any technical assistance to member countries.

In all SWTS target countries we establish linkages to field colleagues who are integrating the survey programme into their outcome-based work plans in the area of youth employment. An example is Zambia, where the project ‘Support to the National Plan of Action of the National Youth Policy’ has recently started and will review the National Plan of Action by informing a revision of the document through fresh data collectionincluding the SWTS. Following the consolidation of survey findings, the project will review the effectiveness of country policies and programmes and discuss policy options with government, workers’ and employers’ organizations to better address the youth employment challenge in the country. This intervention will contribute to the achievement of Zambia’s Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) overall goal of attaining accelerated poverty reduction and enhanced human development.

Advocacy on youth employment issues

A series of communications products and activities will be developed to disseminate youth employment messages to keep the topic high in the national, regional and global agendas. This will be done through the organization of a series of media events that will disseminate the results of the SWTS, raise awareness and foster support of the wider public to implement policy and institutional reforms at the country level. In parallel, the communication events will disseminate the findings of the evidence-based global and thematic reports produced by the project. Information on good practice on youth employment policies and interventions will be disseminated through the media. Regional and global communications campaigns will be instrumental to give prominence to decent work for youth in the current and future development agendas. The above-mentioned communication activities will contribute to raising the overall profile of the project and the role of The MasterCard Foundation.