Developmental Approach to Work Readiness for Youth: Focus on Transferable Skills

  • Nikhit D’SaEmail author
  • Peter C. Scales
  • Eliel T. Gebru
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 74)


Harnessing the demographic dividend of the large youth population in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) has proved challenging. Young people in LMICs make up one-fourth of the working-age population but nearly half of the unemployed. The challenge is that youth often enter the labor market without requisite technical and non-technical skills. Additionally, youth in rural areas of LMICs often have limited access to formal employment and need support developing entrepreneurial capabilities. Sustainable Development Goal 4 and 8 focus on youth workforce readiness, targeting technical and vocational skills training and access to decent work. But previous attempts at work readiness have had limited success. In this chapter we argue that interventions on youth work readiness need to address transferable skills: non-technical skills that are important across domains of a youth’s life and can be learned in and transferred across developmental domains. While there is some consensus on which transferable skills we should target, the field still needs to understand the range of skills and how different settings affect youth use of skills. To address these questions we turn to developmental psychology and offer a life-wide learning approach that focuses on the ecological settings around youth, supporting youth to build skills across domains, and an assets-based approach to work readiness development. We end this chapter with a case study from a youth work readiness program implemented in Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda, highlighting the importance of an iterative approach to adapting, administering, and interpreting measurement of transferable skills.


Sustainable Development Goals Youth Decent work Work readiness Livelihood development Transferable skills Soft skills Life skills Social desirability bias Adaptation and contextualization of assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikhit D’Sa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter C. Scales
    • 2
  • Eliel T. Gebru
    • 2
  1. 1.Save the ChildrenWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Search InstituteMinneapolisUSA

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