How skills training changed the lives of disadvantaged young people in Nepal
The Employment Fund supported training for about 100,000 young Nepalese women and men. Over 90% of the graduates found employment, 75% earned an income above the official minimum wage, and 80% were from disadvantaged groups. The most disadvantaged group, young Dalit women, stated that the most significant impacts of the training programme were greater recognition within their communities, enhanced self-confidence and independence.
The programme applied a results-based payment system that rewarded success in securing employment rather than the training in itself – a successful mechanism for including disadvantaged young people in the labor market. The inclusion of several Employment Fund modalities in the Nepali government’s Vocational Education and Training policy is a clear indication that the Employment Fund enjoys national recognition.
Helvetas has a strong commitment to measuring the outcomes and impact of its interventions. Helvetas projects apply a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system with standardized performance indicators and reports on results. Such result-oriented M&E systems are crucial for project steering, organizational learning from the project and showing accountability to stakeholders and donors.
Additionally, Helvetas conducts regular internal or external evaluations and reviews the sustainability of the outcomes and systemic changes. Tracer studies – a survey method that gives information about the employment, contract and income situation of graduates after training – are applied in many Helvetas Vocational Skills Development projects.
Helvetas regularly commissions specialist research institutions to assess the impacts of its signature projects. In the case of the Employment Fund, Helvetas contracted the Nepalese research firm RIDA (Research Inputs and Development Action) and the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich (UNIZH). They jointly studied the overall impact of the Employment Fund as well as its specific impact on the lives of marginalized people.
The Employment Fund in Nepal
An estimated 500,000 young people enter the Nepalese labor market every year. Attaining gainful employment is a challenge for these young people especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is due to a variety of reasons including poor formal education, family responsibilities and limited technical skills, but also because of a poorly developed private sector. Therefore, the Employment Fund was established in 2008 with the aim of providing gainful employment to disadvantaged, unemployed out-of-school youth. The project ran until 2016.
The Employment Fund was financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UK Aid and the World Bank, with an overall budget of about 35 million Swiss francs. Helvetas operated the secretariat of the fund, which covered 87% of all districts in Nepal and approximately 80 occupations in different sectors (e.g. construction, hospitality, garments and textile, agriculture, electronics, etc.), and collaborated with 57 training providers. The training courses usually lasted three to four months. 80 % of the content was practical; theory lessons made up the remaining 20%.
The Employment Fund applied a results-based financing approach, paying training providers based on their success in training and then connecting young people with the labor market. Moreover, the Employment Fund placed special emphasis on the inclusion of women and other disadvantaged groups in the courses, doing this, for instance, through targeted incentives, communication campaigns and counseling.