Why ‘signals’ can matter as much as skills in youth employment

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 14.22.41.pngSometimes the smallest interventions can have the biggest impact in helping a young person get a job.

In the early days of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, we confirmed the obvious fact that it is hard to perform well on a job assessment if you are hungry. In giving an unemployed youth some fruit and a sandwich before they wrote a batch of assessments, we saw they improved their results considerably – by up to 30% – allowing them to better demonstrate their capabilities for entry-level work where they could succeed.

Eight years later, we are still learning from our network of nearly 600,000 work-seekers. A recent study we completed together with Oxford University, Duke University, Stellenbosch University and the World Bank, shows that in the job market, we need to understand signals as much as we understand skills. A signal is a way of communicating credible information in the labour market that gives employers comfort in offering a job to a youth with little or no prior experience……more

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