USAID’s Building the Potential of Youth Activity has reached over 30,000 youth through its transferrable life skills training over the life of the project.
In keeping with its commitment to the Government of Ethiopia to support its efforts to bring economic growth opportunities to its people, USAID funded the Building the Potential of Youth Activity (POTENTIAL) with the goal of “helping youth increase their assets and incomes through employment or better employment for them to achieve economic self-sufficiency, while building the capacity of local institutions to continue this work in the long term”. The support aimed at providing rural youth with transferable soft skills training alongside vocational and entrepreneurship development activities through partnerships with training, small business, and microfinance institutions.
A six-year program launched in January 2015, POTENTIAL targeted unemployed and underemployed young people aged 15-29 living in 30 Woredas of six regional states of Ethiopia. The Activity helped beneficiaries access the livelihood knowledge, skills, and opportunities they need to be economically self-sufficient.
It was implemented by Save the Children Federation, Inc. and its partners: Education Development Center, Inc., HUNDEE-Oromo Grassroots Development Initiative, Professional Alliance for Development in Ethiopia, Relief Society of Tigray, and Facilitators for Change Ethiopia (FC). In order to fulfill its goal, the Activity aimed to achieve the following Intermediate Results:
IR1: Rigorous evidence base developed to inform USAID and its development partners, including youth, Government of Ethiopia (GOE), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), on appropriate, effective, and sustainable market driven youth workforce development intervention
IR2: Improved youth access to market relevant skills and experiences to support the transition to safe and viable employment
IR3: Coordinated delivery, among local institutions, of quality market driven services connecting underserved youth, especially women, to employment and income opportunities.
By the end of its life, this Activity aimed to build the economic self-sufficiency of 34,537 youth across the 30 Woredas of Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Somali, and Tigray regional states. POTENTIAL’s youth livelihood framework encompasses the development of young people’s human, social, financial and physical capital while concurrently building the capacity of local service providers. The Activity’s strategic approach responded to unemployed and underemployed youths’ capacity needs, leveraged existing youth development activities, and contributed to improving the quality and accountability of local training and business service providers by ensuring existing entities work in concert. Specific strategies included the following:
Focus on skills building: POTENTIAL offered tailored technical and transferable life skills trainings to create more viable livelihood prospects
Use targeted labor market assessments: POTENTIAL ensured training and service providers considered market relevance, targeting curricula and programs to emerging skills needs
Expand approaches and offerings in work-based learning: POTENTIAL assisted youth to participate in employer visits, job-shadowing, short-term employment, and internships
Both learners and employers benefited from training and supervisory support, leading to workforce-ready and employable youth with practical experience
Build youth service provider networks: POTENTIAL implemented a cost-effective approach to enhance support service access for remote communities and disadvantaged groups.
POTENTIAL has now completed its mission after six years of implementation, offering beneficiary youth a menu of up to nine training modules as well as integrated employability interventions that provided knowledge and support (through coaching, mentoring, and linking) to enhance their developmental assets (skills, understandings, and personal attributes) so as to be able to gain sound employment (self- or wage) and to be successful in their chosen career. As of December 2019, the Activity reached 35,984 young people 8 (104% of the LoP target). About 47 percent of program participants are female. So far, 24,360 (42% F) have gained new; of these, 66 percent are self-employed, 20 percent have acquired wage work, and 14 percent have gained better employment.
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