Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing rapid demographic growth. While formal unemployment is low, wage job opportunities are also limited. In this context, a vast majority of young people are engaged in low-productivity self-employment. Traditional apprenticeships are one of the most common sources of skills acquisition for youths. Many governments attempt to intervene in the apprenticeship market, but there is limited evidence on the impacts of these public interventions. Researchers partnered with the World Bank and the government of Cote d’Ivoire to evaluate the impact of a dual apprenticeship program on both youths and firms.

Policy Issue 

Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing rapid demographic growth. While formal unemployment is low across most of the continent, only a small share of young people are able to access wage jobs. In contrast, most youth are concentrated in self-employment activities that have low productivity on average.1 2 Low levels of skills are impeding youths’ opportunities to engage in more productive employment. Traditional apprenticeships, through which youth are given on-the-job training by a master trainer in a small private firm, are a common form of skills training available for young adults. Many governments are attempting to set-up  more formal dual apprenticeship systems in parallel. However, thus far, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of these apprenticeship schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa, including on they affect both youths and firms. To address these evidence gaps, the government of Cote d’Ivoire, the World Bank, and external researchers partnered to conduct an an impact evaluation of a dual apprenticeship scheme in Cote d’Ivoire.

Context of the Evaluation 

After a post-election crisis in 2010, the government of Cote d’Ivoire and the World Bank partnered to launch an emergency youth employment and skills development operation (PEJEDEC). The project was designed as an emergency operation, and tested a range of approaches to improve employment opportunities for youths. It included a formal apprenticeship program, which targets low-skilled youths, aged 18 to 24 years old, in the main urban areas of the country. 

Details of the Intervention 

Researchers partnered with the World Bank and the government of Cote d’Ivoire to evaluate the short-term impacts of a dual apprenticeship program on both youths and firms.

The evaluation team randomly selected both eligible firms and youthto participate in the program. Out of 734 companies that applied to host apprentices, the evaluation team randomly assigned approximately half to receive program apprentices. The other half of firms were assigned to the comparison group and did not participate in the program. Of 1,842 eligible youth who applied to participate in the apprenticeship program, approximately half were randomly assigned to participate and were matched to apprenticeship positions offered by firms. The other half formed a comparison group and did not receive an apprenticeship position through the program.

Apprenticeships lasted between one and two years in sectors such as construction, mechanics, textiles, and electronics. During their apprenticeships, youth received a kit of material, work equipment, insurance, and sign a contract to receive a a monthly allowance from the program of 30,000 CFA Francs (approximately US$60). In addition to practical on-the-job training within the firms, youth were also eligible to receive 180 hours of complementary theoretical training per year, and received one-on-one advice from apprenticeship counsellors. At the end of the apprenticeship, each participant was tested on their practical skills and theoretical knowledge of the job and received a certificate.

To measure impacts, the evaluation team conducted a follow-up survey of youth to measure employment, earnings and aspirations. Separately, they surveyed firms to measure their workforce and activities. The evaluation team also collected data on the skills and profiles of apprentices outside the program who joined firms after the study began. This enabled them to measure if the government program affected the private market for apprenticeships.

 [Note: IPA collected endline data only for this evaluation.]

Results and Policy Lessons 

Project on-going; results forthcoming. 

Sources

[1] Filmer, D., et al. (2014). Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC, World Bank,.

[2] Christiaensen, Luc; Premand, Patrick. 2017. Cote d'Ivoire Jobs Diagnostic : Employment, Productivity, and Inclusion for Poverty Reduction. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/26384 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

[3] Eligible applicants were Ivorian, between 18 and 24 years old, able to read and write, held a degree at or below the secondary school-level, were available to start an apprenticeship, and had never before participated in an apprenticeship program.