Recent research and on-the-ground experience suggest that there are a number of key policies and program areas that are essential to improving learning opportunities and economic outcomes for youth. These include: providing young people with the transferable skills needed for the 21st century economy such as communication and personal finance; breaking barriers to complete secondary and postsecondary education; and providing young people with access to the financial or employment resources needed to succeed. The most successful youth programs are those that address the market context and link education and training opportunities with the needs of the local labor market.
For systemic changes to occur in this field there is a need to promote cross-sector approaches to livelihood creation that address the interconnected nature of education, economic opportunities and financial inclusion. There is great value in forming alliances and partnerships–with educational leaders, policy makers, families, community members, the private sector, local government and academia‚Ä"as a means to increase success rates and establish program sustainability. Through our partners and investments, we have learned that there are different pathways for young people to successfully acquire the skills and resources needed to start their own businesses, become employed in a living wage job or obtain a postsecondary education. These pathways depend on the market context and the specific needs of the target group.
In 2012, the Citi Foundation invested close to $6 million in programs that support Youth Education and Livelihoods programs outside the U.S. With these investments, we support educational and training opportunities that lead to improved employment prospects for low-income youth, ages 13-25, increasing their ability to contribute to the economy. The programs that we support around the world address the specific local needs of the youth population in each country. In markets where the key consideration is the integration of out-of-school youth, we fund programs that provide them with entrepreneurship training and access to financial resources to start their own businesses. In countries where successfully completing secondary school is an important milestone, we focus on efforts to help these students gain the 21st century skills to set them on the path to economic success. In countries where obtaining a postsecondary degree is critical, we focus on increasing the number of low-income students who enroll and complete postsecondary education and increase their earning potential. The most effective programs are designed with a clear understanding of the factors that influence youth and supplement increasing their basic skills with access to educational, financial or employment resources.
1 United Nations Population Division. "UN Population Division Policy Brief." United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, March 2009.
2 International Labour Organization. "Global Employment Trends for Youth: Special issue on the impact of the global economic crisis on youth." Geneva: August 2010.