September 15, 2011

DAI’s Lara Goldmark Describes Steps Needed for Sustainable Youth Employment

Large numbers of unemployed young people can lead to blight, social unrest, or worse—sometimes much worse. Donors and others hoping to help put young men and women to work in developing nations need to consider wide-ranging steps for job growth to take root, according to Lara Goldmark, DAI’s Technical Area Manager for Private Sector Development.

“It takes more than simple jobs programs but a range of actors pulling together to spur economic growth nationally and an enabling spirit locally in schools and institutions,” said Goldmark, former Chief of Party of DAI’s Improving the Business Climate in Morocco project.

Goldmark delivered her remarks at the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference September 7-9 in Washington, D.C., which was organized by Making Cents International and co-sponsored by DAI.

The many influences on youth employment, Goldmark said, include the attitudes of a country’s young people toward work, the priorities of local and larger educational structures, the country’s trade policies and business environment, and infrastructure. Sometimes young people simply do not know where jobs are located but could know by utilizing mobile technology; other youth lack soft skills such as problem solving, communication, and teamwork that are often not taught in schools. Sometimes companies face regulatory disincentives to hire interns, which makes it hard for young people to gain work experience.

The key to long-term success in youth employment projects, Goldmark said, is to leave behind an environment more conducive to growing the economy, creating jobs, and preparing young people for employment.

For the conference, which attracted attendees from more than 60 countries, DAI organized the opening plenary discussion, titled “Global Employment Trends and Policy Levers: How Can We Take a System-Wide Approach to Youth Employment?” and featuring Peter McCoy of Bloomberg Businessweek, David Arkless of Manpower Inc., Barbara Chilangwa of Campaign for Female Education, and the Moroccan Ambassador to the United states, H.E. Aziz Mekouar.

DAI’s Goldmark also moderated “A Systemic Approach to Youth Employment Programming,” a panel featuring Dawn Hayden and Jeyathevan Kaarththigeyan of the USAID-funded, DAI-implemented Sri Lanka Reintegration and Stabilization in the East and North, Abderrazak Lakjaa of DAI’s Morocco Economic Competiveness Program, also funded by USAID, and Lino Carcoforo, an independent consultant from Somaliland who developed a series of built-in incentives for training and local workforce development in Coca Cola’s  new factory there.

DAI has implemented workforce development programs in numerous countries, including Albania, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Serbia, Timor-Leste, and Zimbabwe.