To become or remain economically vibrant, countries must have a consistent influx of youth who possess the skills required to thrive in the labor market. Yet data from most countries indicate a considerable gap in foundational and occupational skills that local employers demand in a 21st-century workplace. What strategies work to meet current and future workforce needs and ensure positive outcomes for youth? This framework answers some of these questions.
Two years ago, Peter Joyce and I wrote a policy brief calling for better connection between education and the labor market, and suggested adaption of successful models like Linked Learning. In the time since, a group at RTI International has worked to develop, implement, and test a framework to do this. The result is the Quality Assurance Framework.
The QAF helps technical and vocational educational training centers to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, determine the demands of the labor market, and determine, on a continuous basis, the corresponding services they should offer to students and prospective employers. To meet current and future workforce needs, training centers must provide comprehensive, inclusive services and industry partners must have confidence that training programs are aligned with labor market demands.
RTI has trialed and evaluated the QAF on USAID-funded projects in Kenya and Indonesia. Read about these cases and RTI’s approach to workforce development in our Shared Economic Opportunity publication. In Indonesia, for example, we have demonstrated a direct correlation between QAF use and increases in admissions equity, levels of soft skills and work readiness, and successful job placements – including with new industry partners like Mattel.
The open access, five-part QAF toolkit comprises a set of training resources that allow practitioners to assess, plan, and improve the education they provide youth. It includes:
(1) Overview – Summarizes the critical need globally for better educational opportunities that lead directly to youth employment, and sets the stage for the QAF
(2) Framework – Elaborates upon the rationale for the QAF, and describes its components
(3) Trainer’s manual – Serves as a guide for master trainers and facilitators responsible for training others in how to roll out the use of the QAF across networks of technical training centers
(4) Appendices – Consist of reproducible handouts, forms, and other resources to accompany the trainer’s manual
(5) PowerPoint slide deck – with slides to accompany the trainer’s manual.
Together, these tools breakdown and present a systematic approach to quality technical education. RTI will use this as our foundation to work to improve workforce development in the countries where we work, and we invite you to do the same.