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Evidence in Labor: Vocational and skills training programs to improve labour market outcomes

7th Dec 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Many employed people experience poverty when they cannot get enough hours of work or when they are not paid sufficiently for the work they do. In low-, lower-middle-, and upper-middle-income countries in 2019, nearly 147 million people were underemployed based on the number of hours they could find work. Worldwide, nearly seven percent of employed people live below the extreme poverty line (US$1.90 purchasing power parity per day). Vocational and skills training programs aim to build a strong labor force with in-demand skills by preparing people for jobs in a specific occupation or sector, often with better benefits, more stability, and/or higher pay. Vocational trainings, which can be supplemented by practical work experience, usually lead to a certification or diploma—this certification can help people get a job by providing a credible skills signal to employers. Vocational training programs are often expensive, however, ranging from a few hundred US dollars to more than US$10,000 per person trained. Apprenticeships are often informal training under the supervision of a master craftsperson working in a small firm. This policy insight reviews findings from 28 randomized evaluations of apprenticeships and vocational training programs. The programs evaluated varied greatly in their duration, target population, design, content, cost, implementer, and implementation context. The evaluations found mixed evidence. Though most of the evaluated training programs increased people’s employment rates at least modestly, just over half increased their earnings. Some interventions were successful in helping workers move into higher quality jobs, including through formal employment. When designing vocational training programs, policy makers should consider incorporating practical work experience, skills certification, financial support, soft-skills training, job placement support, and a focus on sectors with strong demand for labor as these features have driven positive outcomes of many training programs.

About the Presenter
Natalie Valent is a Senior Policy Associate at J-PAL Global, where she works on the Labor Markets sector. In this role, she manages the Jobs and Opportunity Initiative, writes policy publications, and promotes evidence-informed policymaking. Prior to joining J-PAL, Natalie worked as a researcher at an environmental nonprofit where she worked on climate finance initiatives. Natalie has also worked as a graduate-level teaching and research assistant in economics and public policy, studied in Spain, and has conducted research with Innovations for Poverty Action Myanmar on female empowerment, economic opportunity, and energy access. Natalie holds a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, where she graduated with a distinguished Master’s Project and the program’s Citizenship Award. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oregon

Zoom Meeting Details
Meeting ID: 982 7485 1402



7th Dec 2022
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Amy Jephthah