Youth Initiative: Funded Projects

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Projects Funded During the Second Round (2014):

Evaluation of the Indian National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program

ResearchersAbhijit BanerjeeMarianne BertrandBruno CréponIsaac Mbiti
Location: India 
Type of Project: Full Study 

To address critically high levels of youth unemployment and under-employment, as well as an apparent mismatch between youth’s skills versus those demanded by employers, the Indian Government has established a new Public-Private Partnership: the National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP). NETAP aims to significantly increase the number of youth and firms participating in the apprenticeship system in India, with the ultimate goal of becoming the largest employability scheme in the country.  We have partnered with TeamLease Skills University (TLSU), the largest private sector service provider under NETAP. TLSU will recruit and match both firms and youth into NETAP apprenticeships. We propose to leverage this partnership to pursue two key research questions. First, we exploit an over-subscription design to study the returns to apprenticeship for young people. Second, we exploit a randomized information treatment  to examine the potential benefits that accrue to firms who have access to apprentices.

Improving Job Matching Among Youth

ResearchersRebecca Dizon-Ross
Location: Iraq
Type of Project: Full Study 

The project examines the impact of job-search assistance and career guidance on youth employment. The project is in collaboration with Silatech, which runs online job-search portals in several Arab countries, where youth unemployment is especially high. The previous literature has found that job-search and career guidance improves employment outcomes but has been less successful at identifying the main mechanisms. The online format of Silatech’s services also facilitates the design and implementation of tailored interventions that test specific hypothesized barriers to youth employment, e.g., adding a website features whereby users can set themselves deadlines to complete applications that is based on the hypothesis that procrastination inhibits job search. Thus, the first component of the project is to analyze Silatech’s rich (non-experimental) data to identify likely barriers such as procrastination or misinformation about which jobs one is qualified for, and then design an intervention that aims to overcome them. The second component of the project is to evaluate two existing services Silatech offers: online counseling on which careers the individual’s personality is well-suited for (psychometric tests with a follow-up online session with a counselor) and an (offline) information session on private sector job opportunities.

Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship in Kenya: A Study of Vocational Training and Cash Grants

Researchers: Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael KremerIsaac MbitiEdward Miguel
Location: Kenya
Type of Project: Full Study

This project will examine the effectiveness of potentially complementary interventions aimed at boosting the employability of youth and the productivity of their self-employment ventures in a less-developed country. In particular, we seek to compare and contrast the relative efficacy of vocational training voucher and unconditional cash grant provision in Kenya by studying two overlapping programs administered by a local NGO involving nearly 2,200 youth. The vocational training voucher program selected applicants by lottery to receive vouchers which permitted them to enroll in training programs of their own choosing between 2009 and 2010. The cash grant program was launched in mid-2013, and provided grants to a randomly selected subset of voucher winners and non-winners. The proposed project will undertake detailed, high-quality data collection among the full sample of program applicants, in order to evaluate the medium-longer term effectiveness of these programs in improving youth employment, entrepreneurship, and other important life outcomes.

Projects Funded During the First Round (2012):

Negotiating a Better Future 

Researchers: Nava Ashraf, Corinne Low, Kathleen McGinn, Remmy Mukonka

Location: Zambia
Type of Project: Full research project

Zambian girls drop out of eighth and ninth grade at a rate three times higher than boys, and contract HIV with at twice the rate of young males.

Do parents not care about their daughters’ futures? Do girls lack sufficient information to make good decisions about their health? Researchers proposed that communication and coordination stands in the way of both intergenerational and individual investment in health and education, and that targeted life skills training may allow girls to better leverage limited financial and time resources and resist pressure to engage in risky sexual behaviors.

This project will randomize 800 girls into three afterschool activity groups—a control group, an information curriculum, and information paired with negotiation skills training—and track their school performance and health behavior. Rigorous experimental measures will allow researchers to isolate the causal effect of communication skills training compared to information and explore the mechanism of impact. For more details, see the project summary.

The Returns to Youth Apprenticeship Training

Researchers: Kim Lehrer, Isaac Mbiti, Jamie McCasland
Location: Ghana
Type of Project: Top-up grant

Youth underemployment has the potential to create significant social unrest and perpetuate poverty. A lack of necessary skills is often cited as contributing to this high unemployment. Apprenticeships are a potential method to expand labor market opportunities for youth by providing them with relevant experience and market-ready skills through on-the-job training. The new National Apprenticeship Program in Ghana aims to deliver market relevant skills to youth through apprenticeship training. We propose to use an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of the National Apprenticeship Program along several dimensions. The project is uniquely positioned to evaluate the effectiveness of the current recruitment method in identifying promising candidates for training. The project will also provide suggestive evidence on the potential for the program to affect the market for training. The findings will provide valuable insights that can assist policymakers in optimizing the design of large scale youth training programs.