YOUTH SKILLS AND JOBS: Entrepreneurship Training and Second Chance Approaches

This is the first of a five-part article series by Dr David Smawfield, an international expert on technical and vocational education and training, exploring different dimensions of youth skills development for jobs and employability. This discourse leads to the ADB International Skills Development Forum in Manila from 10-12 December 2013. Shanti Jagannathan, ADB.

Entrepreneurship training and second chance approaches for early school leavers are valuable complements to formal education and technical and vocational education and training. Policy makers in developing Asia would do well to get the context and strategies right for such interventions and allocate adequate resources. However, it is important to acknowledge that they cannot substitute mainstream education and training.

The main rationale behind entrepreneurship training is to empower young people to become entrepreneurs, to take control of their own livelihoods and to offer an economic lifeline for those who work for self-betterment.  The 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Report on “The State of Global Youth Entrepreneurship” sheds some unprecedented light on youth entrepreneurship, especially with regard to aspirations, attitudes and activities.  It says ‘young entrepreneurs are more confident than older entrepreneurs about creating jobs over the next five years in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa’. However, only 17% of Asia Pacific would be considered potential entrepreneurs, compared to 60% in Sub Saharan Africa.  But, youth in Asia Pacific are most likely to make use of an on-line trading environment whereas youth in Sub-Saharan Africa are least likely.

Barriers identified by young people to becoming entrepreneurs include lack of access to finance, appropriate skills, infrastructure, adequate support structures and a mentorship. The report has found entrepreneurship education at primary and secondary school levels across the globe almost universally ‘poor’.

There is little systematic impact evaluation of entrepreneurship training and educational support. The 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring “Special Report on Education and Training” finds that entrepreneurship training appears to have the greatest effect on early-stage entrepreneurial activity in countries with favorable institutional contexts and the impact of entrepreneurial training is related to the country’s level of economic development.

The importance of tailoring interventions to the context is elaborated further in the 2013 Overseas Development Institute Report – Youth Entrepreneurship, a Contexts Framework which outlines that diagnosing the context of the external environment, whether it is factor driven, efficiency driven, innovation driven or has conflict, post conflict or peaceful setting or is a urban or rural environment is as important as tailoring the intervention to the beneficiary.

Second Chance Approaches

While the promotion of entrepreneurship among youth including through education and training, has many positive dimensions, it is important to acknowledge that they may not completely transform the problem of mass youth unemployment. Strengthening basic and foundational skills are critical for success in the work place.

In developing countries, there are large numbers of youth who have failed to complete a full cycle of basic education. The  2012 UNESCO Global Monitoring Report – Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work estimated that 200 million 15- to 24-year-olds in low and middle income countries have not completed primary school, let alone secondary education. It could be argued that the quality of schooling on offer in many instances is of such low quality that schooling is failing the learner, rather than that the learner failing in school. Many young people with high levels of intrinsic ability have not realised their potential. Second chance initiatives can be powerful means of unlocking that potential.

The 2013 OECD Action Plan for Youth has stressed that attaining a threshold level of foundation skills is essential for youth to have reasonable career prospects and that it is very important that those who have dropped out of school have some ways to return. The 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report also recommends that governments should make second chance education a policy priority to reduce the number of disadvantaged youth without foundational skills and set aside adequate funds for second chance education in the country’s strategic plans.  A crucial part of any second chance strategy should be recognition and validation of relevant competencies that learners may have acquired outside of the education system. This is for both purposes of entry to programmes of study and entry to work.

Countries in the European Union and OECD have put in place robust second chance education programs that developing countries in Asia can learn from.  This defies the misconception that second chance education is only important for developing countries.  There is a lot of interest, experience and expertise in second chance education and training among more advanced nations.  The 2012 report on International Approaches to 2nd Chance Education examined models in USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany and France, together with reference to practice elsewhere in Europe and the Nordic countries.  It offers a comprehensive list of successful characteristics of second chance programmes. It highlights that the most effective interventions combine life skills, basic education training and work placements or apprenticeships and stresses the importance of transferable skills.

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Posted on November 27, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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