Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE): Pardee Initiative Partners with the World Bank

Pardee RAND doctoral candidates Nelly Mejia and Crystal Huang with RAND senior economist Peter Glick

Nelly Mejia, Peter Glick, and Crystal Huang

Pardee RAND professor Peter Glick and students Haijing (Crystal) Huang, Ifeanyi Edochie, and Gabriela Armenta are working with RAND colleagues in the Center for Middle East Public Policy as well as Pardee RAND alum David Robalino, director of the Labor Markets and Youth team with the Social Protection unit of the World Bank, on S4YE, a collaboration looking at issues of youth unemployment in developing nations. (Alum Nelly Mejia also worked on the project before she graduated in June 2016.)


S4YE is a major initiative by the World Bank and other partners to identify and support effective and scalable solutions for youth employment in low and middle income countries. It grows out of a recognition both of the massiveness of the youth unemployment problem—particularly in the Middle East/North Africa and Sub-Saharan African regions—and the fact that, despite the huge amount of resources and programs in existence, the evidence base on which interventions or policies are effective remains thin and scattered.


Several aspects of what the coalition aims to do are innovative:

  • First, it will be comprehensive, compiling the full body of rigorous evidence on effective programs for youth employment, including training, job creation, entrepreneurship development, private-public sector and private initiatives, as well as broader labor market policies affecting youth. The Coalition will create a “blueprint” for new programs that builds on what is rigorously known.
  • Second, the emphasis is on scalability and the transformation of evidence into policy action through extensive dissemination work and interaction with policymakers; the process does not stop with the assembling of evidence.
  • Third, the coalition recognizes the key role to be played by the private sector, both as partners in the coalition itself and more broadly as partners in interventions and policies for youth employment. In particular, the coalition will seek to engage the private sector—including both large international firms and those based in low and middle income countries—not from the perspective of a model of donations but rather, one of investments in programs that yield returns.

S4YE also acts as major funder of youth employment programs and their evaluations through a competitive process, with funding provided through the World Bank. The evaluations will add to the knowledge base being assembled.

Partners and Roles

S4YE partners include, in addition to the World Bank and RAND: Accenture, a leading multinational management consulting and technology services firm; Plan International, a major global organization directed at ending child poverty and increasing development; and International Youth Foundation and Youth Business International, two prominent NGOs focused on youth in low and middle income countries.

RAND is playing a key intellectual role in the coalition. In the first year of the initiative, RAND took the lead role in designing the approaches to developing the knowledge base, creating the “blueprint” for transferable and scalable interventions, developing strategies for dissemination and policy impact, and setting out the evaluation criteria for funding interventions.

In Year 2, the RAND team, with the addition of Francisco Perez-Arce, continued to shape the S4YE research program, including by preparing a comprehensive study on the role of the private sector in youth employment and contributing to the S4YE 2015 Flagship Report. In Year 3, the team is playing a key role in the preparation of the annual 2016 S4YE report, which will focus on youth migration and employment, as well as participating in other aspects of S4YE planning and research.


The World Bank published its inaugural flagship report, Toward Solutions for Youth Employment: A 2015 Baseline Report, which is available on their website; Peter Glick, Crystal Huang, and Nelly Mejia helped with that report.

The RAND team members also published the following paper: