Workforce development, broadly defined, is an interrelated set of solutions designed to meet employment needs. Workforce development promotes employment using a reciprocal approach of addressing the needs of both job seekers and employers. From a job seeker’s perspective (or the supply side), workforce development prepares potential employees with needed skills and provides support services that allow individuals to optimize their opportunities for employment. From an employer’s point-of-view (or the demand side), workforce development serves as an appropriate and a practical channel to communicate and meet employers’ demands for skills. Central to workforce development is helping individuals obtain jobs and thrive in the workplace, while meeting the hiring demands of employers. This two-pronged approach of tackling supply and demand sides of employment sets workforce development apart from existing programs, such as basic education and technical and vocational skills training.
Most recent estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicate a rising global unemployment rate, which stood at nearly 200 million people in 2016. Although unemployment remains a global challenge, unemployment is predominantly affecting limited resource countries. Additionally, youth ages 15 to 24 remain one of the most affected groups globally. In 2016, ILO estimates showed that there were 71 million unemployed youth or 13% of all working youth. Of the world’s 71 million unemployed youth, 61 million live in these limited resource countries. Furthermore, 156 million youth (or 38% of working youth) in these settings are working poor.
At GSDI, we recognize that (un)employment is a multidimensional phenomenon that requires an equally multilevel approach. Our work focuses on fostering gainful employment for young people through a workforce development lens. We believe that in order for employment to be a tool for economic security and a pathway out of poverty, workforce development programs must be available and accessible to those in great need, including poor and low-skilled youth. We facilitate employability by enabling youth to acquire technical knowledge, workplace attitudes, and practical skills for gainful employment and by linking young people with opportunities that meet employers’ demand. GSDI teams up with youth development organizations that: (a) prepare and train young people on life, work readiness, entrepreneurial, and technical skills; (b) provide support services, such as job counselling and workplace experience; and (c) build mechanisms to connect job seekers and employers.