Skills and training programs

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Do firms benefit from apprenticeship investments?

Why spending on occupational skills can yield economic returns to employers

10.15185/izawol.55 55 Lerman, R

by Robert Lerman

Economists once believed firms do not pay to develop occupational skills that workers could use in other, often competing, firms. Researchers now recognize that most firms benefit from investing in apprenticeship training. Evidence indicates that financial returns to firms vary. Some recoup their investment within the apprenticeship period, while others see their investment pay off only after accounting for reduced turnover, recruitment, and initial training costs. Generally, the first year of apprenticeships involves significant costs, but subsequently, the apprentice’s contributions exceed his/her wages and supervisory costs. Most participating firms view apprenticeships as offering certainty that all workers have the same high level of expertise and ensuring a supply of well-trained workers during sudden increases in demand and to fill leadership positions.

Do youth mentoring programs change the perspectives and improve the life opportunities of at-risk youth?

While most effects are positive, they tend to be modest and fade over time—in addition, some mentoring programs can backfire

10.15185/izawol.62 62 Rodríguez-Planas, N

by Núria Rodríguez-Planas

Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have been providing positive role models and building social skills for more than a century. However, most formal mentoring programs are relatively novel and researchers have only recently begun to rigorously evaluate their impact on changing at-risk youth’s perspectives and providing opportunities for them to achieve better life outcomes. While a variety of mentoring and counseling programs have emerged around the world in recent years, knowledge of their effectiveness remains incomplete.

Policies to support women’s paid work

Policies in developing countries to improve women’s access to paid work should also consider child welfare

10.15185/izawol.157 157 Giannelli, G

by Gianna Claudia Giannelli

Engaging in paid work is generally difficult for women in developing countries. Many women work unpaid in family businesses or on farms, are engaged in low-income self-employment activities, or work in low-paid wage employment. In some countries, vocational training or grants for starting a business have been effective policy tools for supporting women’s paid work. Mostly lacking, however, are job and business training programs that take into account how mothers’ employment affects child welfare. Access to free or subsidized public childcare can increase women’s labor force participation and improve children’s well-being.

The boom in university graduates and the risk of underemployment

Better information on university quality may reduce underemployment and overeducation in developing countries

10.15185/izawol.165 165 Yamada, G

by Gustavo A. Yamada

As the number of secondary school graduates rises, many developing countries expand the supply of public and private universities or face pressure to do so. However, several factors point to the need for caution, including weak job markets, low-quality university programs, and job–education mismatches. More university graduates in this context could exacerbate unemployment, underemployment, and overeducation of professionals. Whether governments should regulate the quantity or quality of university programs, however, depends on the specific combination of factors in each country.

Are apprenticeships beneficial in sub-Saharan Africa?

As they do not lead to high-productivity jobs, apprenticeships in sub-Saharan Africa fail to generate high incomes

10.15185/izawol.268 268 Teal, F

by Francis Teal

Apprenticeships are the most common form of non-academic training in sub-Saharan Africa. Most apprenticeships are provided by the private sector, for a fee, and lead to self-employment rather than to wage jobs. Where the effects have been measured, they show that earnings are not higher, on average, for people who did an apprenticeship than for those who did not. This presents a conundrum. Why would people pay for apprenticeship training that does not benefit them? Research reveals that apprenticeships do benefit some people more than others. Especially striking is that the returns to apprenticeships can fall with the level of education.

Can higher education reduce inequality in developing countries?

Expanding higher education might solve rising youth unemployment and widening inequality in Africa

10.15185/izawol.273 273 Shimeles, A

by Abebe Shimeles

Developing countries often face two well-known structural problems: high youth unemployment and high inequality. In recent decades, policymakers have increased the share of government spending on education in developing countries to address both of these issues. The empirical literature offers mixed results on which type of education is most suitable to improve gainful employment and reduce inequality: is it primary, secondary, or tertiary education? Investigating recent literature on the returns to education in selected developing countries in Africa can help to answer this question.

How do adult returns to schooling affect children’s enrollment?

Raising future expected monetary gains to schooling and poor families’ current incomes promotes school enrollment in developing countries

10.15185/izawol.305 305 Swinnerton, K

by Kenneth A. Swinnerton

Universal completion of secondary education by 2030 is among the targets set by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Higher expected adult wages traced to schooling may play a major role in reaching this target as they are predicted to induce increased school enrollment for children whose families wish to optimally invest in their children’s future. However, low incomes and the obligation to meet immediate needs may forestall such investment. Studies suggest that school enrollment in developing countries is positively correlated with higher expected future wages, but poor families continue to under-enroll their children.