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Hosted by Save the Children, with support from Accenture and in partnership with BRAC, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Session Descriptions

 Female vocational student in Zomba, Malawi

Julie Perdue/Save the Children

Key Questions – Answered and Unanswered.
What can we learn from existing evidence to best support young people as they become economically independent? What are the key unanswered questions in the field of youth employment?
Keynote: On Evidence to Action - How?
In this session, two leading experts in the field of international development discuss how evidence does or doesn’t translate into action, and what can be done to bridge the gap between research and practice. Join keynote speakers Dr. Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT and Co-founder and Director of The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and Asif Saleh, Senior Director of Strategy, Communications and Empowerment of BRAC, one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations, for this enlightening conversation. This discussion will be moderated by Dr. Amanda Glassman who is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Session 1: What Matters for Girls Economic Empowerment: Is it the “Bundle”?
There is a growing body of evidence illustrating the effectiveness of different “approaches” for youth employment and economic empowerment programs – ranging from simpler unconditional cash transfers to more complex, multi-pronged interventions. There is the urge to look for a silver bullet, an ideal program that can be replicated across contexts and populations. However, even if a program works in one context with a specific population, implementation across contexts and at scale can be challenging. We need to disentangle what really matters and understand all the mechanisms at play. Through the frames of research conducted on three programs (BRAC’s Empowerment for Livelihood for Adolescents, Save the Children’s Kishoree Kontha and Population Council’s Balika), we will debate the evidence on and what we have learned about how these programs for adolescent girls can prepare them for economic independence. Is there a common narrative across these studies? are the key common factors enabling empowerment for girls across the three programs? What can the long term evidence of these program tell us about the sequencing of program components? Do we have enough evidence to know what types of interventions are fundamental for girl economic empowerment? How do we know how much is enough evidence?  
Check out the resource list for relevant research for this session. 
Session 2: What Matters for Sustainable Youth Self Employment: Is it Just Cash?
For many of the most deprived youth around the work, formal wage employment is not an option due to the context they live. To that end, many in the youth employment field have worked to promote sustainable self-employment for the most deprived. However, evidence from the field strongly suggests that even when youth are provided with the right skills and other inputs they need to start a business, other contextual issues matter and factor into whether their businesses succeed and thrive over time. Using new evidence from the ten-year follow up of the Government of Uganda’s Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) that provided conditional cash transfers to youth, we will explore what are the enabling conditions which allowed youth to succeed in self-employment. This session will explore questions such as: Was YOP cost-effective? What types of economic conditions must be met for these businesses to survive and flourish? What types of proximal environments (familial, communal) are conducive to youth self-employment? What can we learn from the evaluation that can be applicable to other contexts?  
Check out the resource list for relevant research for this session. 
Session 3: Are We Robbing Prakesh to Pay Priyanka?
Recentresearch highlights a shortage of full-time wage employment compared to the overall supply of labor as a significant challenge for youth employment in low-income countries (Fox and Kaul, 2017). The research illustrates that increasing demand for youth labor can address challenges around youth unemployment and crowding out. Yet, most youth-serving organizations do not address demand or structural labor market issues. In this session, we will debate whether well-intentioned organizations are inadvertently displacing youth, or other deprived groups, who do not participate in our programs as well as other questions like: What do we know about displacement effects? Who gets displaced and how?  How do we measure or account for displacement in the program we are already running? Should we? How can we prevent it? When is most likely to happen and for whom? Can we learn from evidence that may not be specific to youth employment or the most deprived youth?
Check out the resource list for relevant research for this session. 
Session 4: A Future of Decent Work for the Most Deprived - Zombie Apocalypse or Superhero Adventure? 
Several recent reports such as Accenture’s New Skills Now have analyzed the increasing digitization of work, the rise of the gig economy, and the changing nature of work. Automation is transforming jobs from banking to agriculture. Also, increasing evidence has amply documented  the importance of not only digital skills, but also “socio-emotional”/ “non-cognitive”/”transferable life” skills on workforce success for youth, including for deprived youth. In this rapidly changing world of work, we cannot predict the specific technical skills that will be needed in entry-level jobs, but what we do know is that youth need skills that allow them to adapt and be resilient. Recent studies for both rural and urban contexts and for both self employment and employment have shown that how programs are implemented matter to skills acquisition, including targeting, mode of delivery (e.g. training, apprenticeship, etc), delivery mechanisms. In this session, using evidence from entrepreneurship programs in Africa and employment programs in Asia, we will address questions such as: How does target group and context affect which skills are effective to business and employment outcomes? What is the best ways to delivery these skills? How can the evidence presented be used to improve programming? What constraints exist in using findings like these? How can we advise Accenture and other donors on how to impart necessary skills to youth? What do we still need to know to design programs that build youth skills?

Check out the resource list for relevant research for this session. 

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