UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.
Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.
And we never give up.
BACKGROUND & RATIONALE
In 2015, the world population comprised of approximately 1.2 billion youth between the ages of 15-24, with South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa constituting almost half of the global youth population. Compared to 2015, the global youth population is projected to increase by another 104 million by 2030 and 154 million by 2050. Although education enrollment among youth is on the rise, UNESCO reports that 36 percent of all adolescents of upper secondary age (ages 15-17) are not in school – the numbers increase to 48 and 58 percent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. Indeed, according to ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017, around half of the world’s youth ages 15–24 are in the labor force, while some 22 percent (mainly young women) are neither in education, employment or training.
However, according to ILO, youth are three times as likely as adults to be unemployed, with 71 million of the global youth labor force ages 15-24 (13 percent) being unemployed in 2017. More significantly, even when youth are employed, job quality is a critical concern. In developing economies where labor market institutions, including social protection, are weak, large numbers of young people continue to face a future of irregular employment and informality. Young workers often receive below-average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either overqualified or underqualified. According to ILO, as high as 19 out of 20 youth in developing countries are in the informal labor market and 37.7 per cent of working youth are living in extreme or moderate poverty (less than $US 3.10 per day). Since an individual’s first job tends to set a precedent for lifelong earnings, those with poor job prospects at the start of their work life risk falling into “low-pay traps.” This is evidenced by looking at transitions among those aged 25–29 - ILO’s school-to-work transition surveys from 34 countries show that less than one-third of workers are able to transit into satisfactory/stable employment by the time they are between ages 25-29.
On the supply-side, education and training institutions often fail to prepare youth with the skills and competencies that are in demand by the labor market (“skills gap”), which hinders their employability
prospects. Surveys across 27 low and middle- income countries worldwide have found less than half of young employees were considered well-matched in the labor market. For young people the employment challenge is also complicated by a range of intermediation or market failures - such as information gaps, credit market failures, etc. - that prevent eager young job-seekers from successfully connecting to employment opportunities (wage or self-employment). It is important to note that, across countries, youth transitions into the labor market are affected not only by their education or skills level, but also depend on the number and kind of jobs available in the market, which themselves are shaped by external factors like economic growth, infrastructure, and investment climate.
The Policy Section in the Division of Data, Research and Policy (DRP) serves as a catalyst to connect and amplify the data and research functions within the division and to analyze new and emerging issues, scope policy options and develop recommendations. With the Policy Section, the Policy Lab Unit was established to develop policy recommendations on new, complex or cross-cutting issues affecting children in order to inform UNICEF’s engagement and positioning, review the viability of policy solutions and provide policy guidance to UNICEF’s Country Offices and National Committees on how to integrate issues of growing importance into concrete actions.
The issue of skills and employment for youth is an emerging area of interest in UNICEF and the Policy Lab is seeking a consultant to support a scoping review to help inform and identify potential opportunities of engagement in this area for the Policy Lab.
The purpose of the consultancy is to provide research and analytical support towards preparation of a scoping review, which will inform and guide the Policy Lab’s engagement in the skills and employment for young people space.
Specifically, the consultant will deliver the following results with supervision and guidance from the Policy Specialist, Skills and Employment, and working in close collaboration with the skills and employment working group:
Result 1: Updating the theory of change framework for improving employability of young people ages 15-19 in productive jobs.
Result 2: Synthesizing trends and challenges in skills acquisition and employment for young people ages 15-24, with particular attention to trends and challenges for young people ages 15-19.
Where possible, disaggregate the analysis by region, gender, socio-economic status, rural/urban. Where secondary sources are not adequate or available (e.g. dis-aggregated data for the 15-19 age group), limited analysis of survey data may be undertaken to fill in gaps.
Result 3: Mapping of UNICEF programs on skills and employment for young people ages 15 and over.
Result 4: Preparing the scoping review paper.
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