Uganda is seen to be one of the world’s most youthful countries. However, the figures for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) in Uganda was estimated to be around 18%, with labour potential significantly under-utilised.
Weak demand for workers, coupled with a lack of access to finance or to other resources such as land, provided youth with very few pathways to enter formal work either at an existing workplace or a start-up enterprise of their own making.
It is for this reason that DFID Uganda intervened with the Youth Development Programme (YDP) and the Northern Uganda Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (NUYEP), running from June 2013 to December 2015.
Montrose conducted a final and comparative evaluation of the Youth Development Programme (YDP) and the Northern Uganda Entrepreneurship Programme (NUYEP).
The two programmes focused on youth skills in Northern Uganda through Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges and Enterprise Uganda’s (EUG) ‘BEST’ entrepreneurial training package.
The Youth Development Programme targeted 15,400 marginalised and disadvantaged youth through both economic interventions such as literacy, numeracy and vocational skills training and citizenship interventions such as psychosocial support, life skills and self-empowerment sessions.
Moreover, NUYEP aimed to support 10,500 participants through entrepreneurship training and follow on activities, 80% of whom are youth (aged 18-35).
Each evaluation conducted by Montrose used mixed methods, utilising existing and new quantitative and qualitative data to provide formative evidence of the implementation status, outcome and impact of the respective programme. Montrose’s role included:
Conducting reviews of existing baseline data and wider literature on skills building and vocational training programmes operating regionally
Development, pre-testing and finalisation of evaluation tools in collaboration with the programmes’ implementing partner (VSO).
Oversight and management of the implementation of the data collection phase including recruitment and training of data collection teams and validation of data in the field. Data was collected from multiple project stakeholders including beneficiaries and representatives of VTIs through interview, focus group discussions and direct observations. Key evaluation questions related to the number of beneficiaries having received training from VTIs who were employed in ‘decent work’.
A rigorous analysis and comparison of existing data with evaluation data and other triangulated findings in a final evaluation report.
A comparative analysis including a cost benefit analysis across YDP and NUYEP and other relevant interventions was also undertaken. The ‘comparative’ component of the work ensured maximisation of the lessons learned and inform evidence for future skills based programming available to the development community. As such, the evaluations provide important learning for the future design of related interventions in the skills area. Key lessons learned related to:
The importance of integrating measures of value into project design and monitoring and evaluation frameworks from the outset in order to facilitate deeper cost-benefit analysis and comparison.
The importance of selection and capacity building of mentors, trainers and counselors given the strong correlation between outcomes and levels and quality of support provided to beneficiaries.
The need for equity-driven design elements in youth vocational training based on disparities between genders and ability groups in ability to use the access the services and benefit from them (particularly female youth).