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Call for proposals: Managing organizations for regional research networks to foster an inclusive and sustainable future of work

FutureWORKS: Skills for a Sustainable and Inclusive Future of Work  

Launch date: May 1st, 2023 

Full proposals to lead a regional research network, including a draft call for proposals outline, must be received no later than June 26th, 2023, at 11pm Eastern Standard Time or EST. 

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce a call for full proposals as part of the FutureWORKs initiative, for the selection of regional research hubs intended to develop and lead a regional research network to advance skills and policies for an inclusive and sustainable future of work. 

About IDRC, the Program Divisions and the Focus Area 

IDRC is a Crown corporation created in 1970 by the Parliament of Canada. IDRC supports and strengthens the capacity of people and institutions in developing countries to undertake the research that they identify as most urgent. It works with researchers and research users as they confront contemporary challenges within their own countries and contributes to global advances in their fields. 

The Centre’s 10-year strategy, Strategy 2030, affirms IDRC’s vision for a more sustainable and inclusive world, and commits the Centre to the following mission: IDRC will be a leader in research for development, investing in high-quality research and innovation, sharing knowledge for greater uptake and use, and mobilizing alliances for more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive societies. (Please refer to IDRC’s Strategy 2030 for more information.) 

In the context of this strategy, we identified the following five programs that will shape IDRC’s work over the next decade – making knowledge a tool for improving lives across the developing world: 

  • Climate-Resilient Food Systems 
  • Democratic and Inclusive Governance 
  • Education and Science  
  • Global Health  
  • Sustainable Inclusive Economies 

Gender equality and inclusion are central to all our programs.  

This call is a joint initiative of the Education and Science and the Sustainable Inclusive Economies programs. It seeks to leverage past IDRC investments on challenges in the Future of Work, Women’s Economic Empowerment and skills development to create a multi-regional initiative supporting innovation research to advance skills for the future of work and promote decent work. 

Overview of the call 

Background and rationale 

Fostering inclusive and sustainable development and managing the future of work (FOW) are more interdependent today than ever before. Eighty-five percent of the world’s working-age population lives in the Global South and over the next few decades, this share will increase, compounding the urgency to create new and more quality jobs and develop adequate skills, while addressing climate change. 

From demographic trends to technological advancement/disruption and climate change, major forces were already upending the world of work before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The pandemic further accelerated digitalization, new ways of working, the gig economy and automation. Adding to these changes is the reality of climate change and transitions to low-carbon economies, which will change economic structures in yet unknown ways. 

These drivers may further worsen labour market participation and outcomes, disproportionately impacting marginalized women and young people. There are demands from job-seekers to those seeking better employment and those in government keen to harness their power to produce positive employment outcomes through skills development, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and lifelong learning.  Unfortunately, many low-income countries remain ill prepared to take full advantage of some of the opportunities that accompany these challenges.  

The impact of climate change, the transition to low carbon economies, and technological change through digitalization on the future of work will differ across regions depending on conditions such as the size and prevalence of the informal economy, demographic trends, productivity levels of different sectors, quality and nature of existing jobs, and trends in international trade. Once again, how these changes affect the future of work will depend on the strategies and policies that countries design to benefit from these transitions, mitigate their adverse effects, and share benefits inclusively and fairly among the whole population.  

Beyond quantity, the quality of existing jobs is important. Globally, the ILO estimates that more than 60% of the world’s working-age population work informally, and this share is even higher in lower-income economies. Women and young people are more likely to be in informal, low-quality jobs that are poorly paid, precarious and do not provide access to social protection systems.  Current drivers of economic transformation such as AI and climate change can intensify and deepen these inequalities, creating winners and losers. Without deliberate effort and policy intervention to guide the transitions and mitigate the impacts, many women and young people will likely see already precarious employment worsen. Equipping workers with skills that are not only appropriate for growing and relevant sectors but also, for lifelong learning and adaptability, may expand the options of labour market entrants. In tandem, strengthening social protection systems will support displaced workers and allow them to retrain with relevant skills to help guide a worker-centric transition. 

Skills development and training systems have long emphasized the school to work transition and ensuring readiness among labour market entrants for the jobs available. While consultation across government and with the private sector is an important component, there is often a disconnect between real or future-oriented needs and the current skilling system priorities. Policies designed to meet emissions targets or to improve competitiveness in specific supply chains, for example, are often done in isolation from existing education and skilling infrastructure. The potential for transformation that comes with advanced technologies and digitalization and the pressures to eliminate carbon emissions intensify the need to create skilling systems that are responsive and not merely reactive to change, and that prepare workers for economic mobility, instead of specific occupations or tasks. Equally, there is a need to support more responsive social protection systems that take these changes into account in order to foster quality jobs and to mitigate adverse impacts on those whose jobs are changing or are no longer there. 

Key questions to address through implementation research include how advanced digital technologies, like generative AI, and the transition to low-carbon economies impact employment, what are the skills and policies needed to foster resilient and quality jobs, particularly for women and youth, and what is the role of formal and informal educational programs and labour market institutions to aid this process. 

Key objectives 

This initiative supports high-quality, innovative and gender responsive research that addresses key Future of Work challenges and opportunities to advance skills, strengthen social protection and promote decent work.  

Specific objectives: 

Support Southern-led research on the impact of digital technological advancements such as AI, and the transition to a low carbon economy on future of work and deliver innovation policy solutions. 

Foster networks for knowledge sharing and peer learning, through the development of future of work research hubs in regions where IDRC operates. 

  • Support knowledge mobilization for uptake by engaging policymakers, private sector actors, civil society and workers representatives across the skills ecosystem to help co-develop and utilize evidence in decision making, as well as scale good practices.  

To help achieve these objectives, hubs are expected to support the following priorities: 

Foster high-quality research: Develop an integrated research program examining the extent and drivers of labour markets disruption and the contribution of training and government policies to supporting inclusive labour market outcomes. Research is expected to address labour supply challenges by equipping women and youth with skills that position them for the jobs of tomorrow; demand challenges by creating greater economic opportunities for women and youth; linkage challenges to connect youth and women to with industry for better economic opportunities; and unlocking decent, green job opportunities, investment in new skills, the inclusion of workers and communities in a low carbon development trajectory. 

Lead training and capacity strengthening strategies: Promote the advancement of next-generation researchers (masters and doctoral training / post-doctorate, and those in vocational institutions). Strengthen the ability of firms, industry associations, training and vocational institutions and government to understand and act on emerging evidence through a range of activities (e.g., participation in implementation research projects, workshops, training events, policy dialogues, peer-learning) and appropriate reskilling measures that are needed to drive the just transition. 

  • Foster sustained networking and cross-sectoral partnerships: Develop and sustain a functioning research network that spans borders and disciplines, and is informed by and engages with non-academic actors. Carry out peer learning and knowledge exchange activities and foster collaboration across projects.   
  • Ensure knowledge Mobilization: Help position policymakers, private sector actors, civil society and workers representatives across the skills ecosystem to utilize evidence in decision making and scale good practices in relation to countries pursuit of a low carbon economy. 

Hubs will determine their exact role and structure.  Proposing organization(s) will provide information on how they will add value to the regional networks to ensure that its outputs and outcomes are greater than the simple sum of individual research projects. 

The hubs will play an important role as part of a global network of IDRC-supported organizations working on skills for an inclusive and sustainable future of work. This means that hubs are expected to work with each other, not just independently, aiming to move the needle on commonly identified objectives per a joint theory of change. For example, we anticipate the need for hubs to collectively think about critical issues such as approaches to gender equality and inclusion, common challenges related to drivers of change, and avenues to policy uptake. 

Indicative research questions 

The following are indicative of the types of research questions and activities that are in scope. Proponents should identify context-relevant priorities in their proposal: 

On understanding the drivers and impacts of changing labour markets for those most vulnerable amid climate and digitalization/technological transformation: 

  • In what sectors/occupations are job tasks changing rapidly, why and to what effect?  
  • How does platformization impact structural barriers for gender equality such as the care economy, and how it can be leveraged to accelerate change towards the 5Rs? 
  • What role does AI have in reshaping the future of work in highly informal economies, and in environments where the majority of SMEs operate in analog? 
  • What are the skills needs of women, youth and marginalized groups in a low carbon development trajectory in different local jurisdictions? 

On examining the role of education and training to inclusively and adequately prepare for/anticipate labour market needs: 

  • What is the role and potential for informal and formal education programs and policies, including but not limited to, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in large-scale institutional strategies for skilling and reskilling? 

On supporting policy frameworks informed by regionally contextually evidence: 

  • What new skill sets, policy frameworks, and regulations are needed to promote quality and secure jobs and enhance economic mobility in the face of climate and technological transformations. How are they gendered in their acquisition? 
  • For example, how can social protection systems be adapted and leveraged to respond to changing forms of work and ensure effective protections for the most vulnerable workers, including those in transition and seizing new opportunities? 
  • What are the critical knowledge gaps around impacts of low carbon policy options on inclusion, in terms of the impacts on women, youth and marginalized groups? 

Indicative scope of work for regional research hubs 

We are seeking two hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) - one to cover Eastern and Southern Africa and one to cover West and Central Africa - and one each in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Through a ‘hub and spoke’ model, critical issues in the creation of skills development systems that enhance economic mobility and future readiness/adaptability will be defined by region to ensure contextual grounding.  

Hub leads will be selected as sole grant recipient by IDRC. The lead will take responsibility for sub granting to other organizations in a timely manner. Hubs will design and launch calls for proposals that respond to thematic and regional realities, building on the body of IDRC-supported evidence and the proposed research questions above. Competitive projects selected will be funded and managed by the hubs in each region. In preparation for the development of calls for proposals, IDRC will host a workshop with all selected regional research hubs to create alignment in the process and support hubs to finalize their methods for soliciting proposals.

Hubs are expected to select sub-grantees, on a competitive basis, that propose innovative and gender responsive research initiatives to advance skills and quality of future of work. Intersectional gender approaches are expected to be central to the design of regional research networks and the research questions, with the objective of centering the analysis on excluded or underserved groups. 

Primary hub responsibilities include: 

  • Help shape an initiative-wide theory of change, including objectives, expected outcomes and outputs, and monitor against indicators. Hubs will be invited to generate a proposed workplan and a theory of change.  
  • Develop and manage an open call for proposals to select and fund applied research projects that address the initiative’s objectives and respond to regional priorities.   
  • Manage selected projects of up to 4 years, providing technical and administrative support, and ensuring project monitoring.  Support all initiative-related activities during its 5 years.  
  • Ensure quality control of the research generated by network members, providing support and guidance to enhance quality and positioning for use. 
  • Ensure that gender analysis is incorporated in all aspects of the applied research projects and throughout the project cycle, including securing multidisciplinary expertise and gender diversity in teams.  
  • Foster a network among selected teams within and across regional hubs, ensuring knowledge exchange and cross-collaboration.  
  • Support strategic positioning of results with key decisionmakers, including synthesis efforts, participating in and organizing key engagement opportunities throughout the lifecycle of the initiative, not just at the end.  
  • Ensure proper monitoring of projects, both technical and financial, report progress to IDRC, and contribute to an initiative-level monitoring and learning framework. If external evaluations are commissioned, hubs are expected to actively contribute to this process.   

The above are essential elements of the role of each regional research hub, but each hub will develop a comprehensive scope of work that reflects the initiative priorities, as well as the hubs expertise, interests and regional and thematic needs. As stated, an initiative-level theory of change will be developed collaboratively by all members. The desire of hubs is to build cohesion across projects and ensure that they establish cross-links building to more than the sum of individual project results.

The hubs will be expected to work with each other, facilitating and participating in knowledge sharing and peer learning opportunities, and participating in strategic engagement opportunities as they arise.  As part of the initiative, a knowledge translation, monitoring and learning organization(s) will be selected to support this function across hubs and help advance uptake and learning efforts for the whole initiative. Hubs will also be expected to facilitate the production, communication and marketing of research outputs stemming from the network and ensure research publication in appropriate venues in accordance with IDRC’s Open Access Policy.  

Funding and duration 

Regional research hubs can submit budget requests of up to a maximum of CAD1,700,000. 

IDRC is expecting to fund 5 regional research hubs, depending on quality, in the following regions: Asia, sub-Saharan Africa (2), MENA and LAC. The initiative’s duration is a maximum of 5 years, including all research activities and final reporting. 

IDRC reserves the right to fund additional proposals from this call if/when more funding becomes available.

IDRC is under no obligation to issue any funds prior to the applicant returning a fully executed Grant Agreement to IDRC. 

All grants are subject to sufficient funds being made available to IDRC by the Parliament of Canada. 

IDRC reserves the right to cancel this call for proposals at any time without prior notice and/or to not issue any grants under this process. 

Eligibility criteria 

Only full proposals that meet the eligibility criteria will be considered. The following eligibility criteria apply: 

  • This call invites proposals from individual organizations or consortiums headquartered in LMICs in the respective region (MENA, LAC, Asia, SSA). If taking a consortium approach, it must be composed of organizations working in the regions of focus.   
  • This call for proposals is open to non-profit research organizations and higher education institutions. Consortia may involve government and UN agencies, but these partners are not eligible to be the lead institution or to have salary costs included. This call is not open to individuals. 
  • International organizations with offices in LMICs playing a leadership role in this proposal are eligible. 
  • A demonstrated track record leading and supporting high quality research in the FOW field, through a strong publication record. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge of regional priorities in the FOW field is a must. 
  • Proven high capacity to support networks or partners, including demonstrated experience fostering knowledge exchange and learning opportunities, both virtually and in person.  
  • Demonstrated experience through a record of publication in conducting gender analysis and ensuring the integration of gender, equity, and inclusion considerations in all project activities.  
  • Proven administrative capacities, including demonstrated expertise in managing research projects, ability to disburse funding to other organizations and in different countries.  
  • Ability to work in English and the working languages of the region (e.g., Spanish for LAC, French for West and Central Africa) at a minimum. Other languages are considered an asset. 
  • Applicants must have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and be capable of contracting in their own right and name, receiving and administering funds, and have authority to direct proposed project activities. Applicants must be able to demonstrate legal status through written documentation. Legal status will only be reviewed if and when applicants are selected following technical selection.  
  • Only complete applications are eligible.  

Expectations of regional research hubs 

Research hubs are expected to comply with the following considerations in the design and governance of the research network they will foster. How this will be done should be reflected in the proposal itself: 

A) Fostering high quality research for impact through a network approach 

Assessed against the following four quality dimensions (refer to IDRC’s Research Quality Plus (RQ+) framework for more details): 

  1. Scientific rigour: extent to which the proposal demonstrates accepted standards of technical merit for its domain and discipline. This involves an assessment of the structural quality of the project, including the following: the study is framed by examination of current knowledge on the issue and regional specificities, clear presentation of research questions and methodology, and well-considered reporting and sharing. 

  1. Research legitimacy: extent to which the proposal accounts for the concerns and insights of relevant stakeholders and addresses potential environmental consequences. IDRC has defined three sub-dimensions for assessing the legitimacy of the proposed research: 

    • Addressing potentially negative consequences – appropriateness of proposed strategies to address the risk of negative consequences of the research process or expected outcomes.  

    • Gender equality and inclusion – [see B) below] 

    • Engagement with local knowledge – extent to which the proposal is contextually grounded, relative to the appropriate scale (community-level, national, regional, or global) at which the research is designed.  

  2. Research importance: is the value of the research questions for intended users and uses. IDRC has defined two sub-dimensions for assessing research importance: 

    • Originality – potential to contribute to theory and/or practice in terms of innovation in generating new knowledge relative to current state of the research field or context.  

    • Relevance – extent to which the proposed research design and expected outputs and outcomes address existing social and/or environmental problems.  

  3. Positioning for use: extent to which the project design has a knowledge sharing plan that will enhance the probability of use and impact. IDRC has defined two sub-dimensions for assessing positioning for use: 

    • User engagement – degree to which the proposal has incorporated plans to build meaningful, two-way connections with intended knowledge users at appropriate stages of the research process.  

    • Openness and actionability – appropriateness and feasibility of the plans in the proposal for sharing research data and results. This includes the extent to which the knowledge sharing plan has considered tailoring products to be timely, useful, comprehensible, and attractive to knowledge users, as well as following guidance on whether a data management plan is required.  

B) IDRC gender equality and inclusion considerations 

IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. We support the generation of knowledge — including by individuals from diverse genders, communities, histories, and experiences — that tackles the systems which perpetuate inequalities based on identity. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, the following: gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, and ability. Taking an intersectional approach to gender equality recognizes these differences and understands diversity as central to advancing equality. Given that gender inequality is a significant barrier across all dimensions of diversity, IDRC invests specific efforts in ensuring its work promotes gender equality and inclusion.  

For additional background, please see IDRC’s Equality Statement

Accordingly, proposals should demonstrate how gender equality and inclusion will be promoted and adopted using an intersectional approach, both with respect to the following: (i) team composition and organizations comprising the research team; and (ii) the design and implementation of the proposed research.  

C) Southern leadership 

IDRC’s mandate is to promote inclusive development in the Global South. Projects that are led by researchers from the Global South will be given greater preference.   

D) Open Access and data management plan 

Applicants funded through this program will be expected to comply with IDRC’ Open Access Policy and IDRC Open Data Statement of Principles. Applicants are to submit a Stage 1 Data Management Plan., and to apply ensure network members have data management plans in place. The DMP templates can be found here.

E) Required network collaboration 

Hubs will be expected to participate in several activities as part of the global Future of Work initiative at IDRC. This may include events and/or conferences that are not currently detailed. Hubs should budget for some additional travel for members of the team/consortium, to cover an estimated two international trips by representative members of the hub. This should not exceed 3% of the budget. Selected network members will also be expected to participate in the broader network and their budget should reflect this.  

F) Knowledge sharing and scaling 

  1. Knowledge sharing 

    • A key objective of IDRC’s Strategy 2030 is to share knowledge for greater uptake and use – increasing the reach and impact that IDRC-supported research has in driving solutions, and in influencing national, regional, and global development agendas, including through synthesizing, and communicating results.  

    • Applicants must explain how their proposal responds to an emerging need, knowledge gap or demand, and they must demonstrate intentionality and identify opportunities to move knowledge (research evidence) into action (policy, social and behavioural change, etc.). Network members are also expected to develop policy uptake plans with support from the hub. 

Applications must include a knowledge sharing strategy that identifies key knowledge users, and that describes the anticipated approach to engage these strategic stakeholders (ideally throughout the research process) to support research uptake and use and/or to scale impact (by optimizing impact beyond original project boundaries). Note that IDRC anticipates supporting the implementation of knowledge sharing plans which are integrated into project proposals – provided the resources required are clearly described, appropriate, and incorporated as part of the overall project budget. 

  1. Scaling impact 

    • Where research questions or directions proposed by the hubs have an emphasis on scaling impact, IDRC’s Scaling Science approach focuses on scaling impact rather than scaling specific actions or innovation. This means that scaling is not necessarily about pushing up or out, because bigger outputs or more actions do not always lead to better impact. Aiming for impact at optimal scale requires balancing multiple dimensions of impact including equity, sustainability, variety, and magnitude. You can refer to the The Scaling Playbook: A Practical Guide for Researchers for guidance on this approach.  

While it may not be possible to address all these considerations to the same degree, their integration and inclusion into the applications will be a key component in the evaluation process. 

Submission process 

Applicants should submit an electronic application through Survey Monkey Apply through the following call link before the deadline: FutureWORKS: Skills for a Sustainable and Inclusive Future of Work - IDRC - CRDI ( 

  • Complete applications must be received no later than June 26th, 2023 at 11pm Eastern Daylight Time, or EDT] Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. 
  • Applications can be submitted in either English or French. 

An acknowledgement of receipt of your submission will be sent to all applicants whose application was received before the closing date and time. 

Format and requirements for proposals 

The application form for this call for proposals includes 11 fields that applicants will need to complete, considering the maximum number of characters allotted per question.  

Section 1. Contact information 

Please provide the contact information of the lead organization and the proposed lead of the hub, or Principal Investigator. This includes an email address, phone number, address of the lead organization and a link to their organizational website (if available). Please also provide the name of other hub members (organizations and websites). 

In the document upload section, you need to submit the CV of the hub project leader and up to 5 more staff members chosen to lead key activities within the hub. You will make the determination of which individuals are listed, aiming to demonstrate a comprehensive coverage of skills and qualifications to match the hubs expected outcomes as referenced in IDRC’s call document. Please include all CVs as one single attachment in PDF.   

Section 2. Abstract (300 words) 

Please provide a short abstract of the project, encompassing the vision and objectives of the network you propose to develop. It should be written clearly for a non-technical audience. Avoid acronyms and technical jargon. Describe the development problem, the purpose/objective of the project and expected results in the form of project outputs and outcomes.  

Section 3. Research program and justification (1500 words) 

This section describes the scope of and the justification for the proposed research program the regional research hub seeks to advance. Priority research questions are to be presented and discussed in the context of research gaps and it should also provide a brief overview of the body of research related to the problems and indicate the gaps that the network proposes to fill.  

To show the importance of the problems, this section should provide detailed insight into the regional dynamics and context and should discuss how the proposed research network relates to the intersection of skills for the future of work and the changing nature of work as a result of climate change and technological transformations. It should delve into the social and economic importance of the problems; the magnitude of the problems and how the research will contribute to their solution; and the need to build up research capacity and policy connections in the proposed areas of research.  

Section 4. Objectives (300 words) 

This short section should provide both the general and specific objectives of the research and network. The general objective should state the development goals being pursued by the research network. The specific objectives should indicate the specific types of knowledge to be produced by research teams selected to form the network, the audiences to be reached and forms of capacity to be reinforced and align with the objectives set forth in this call. These are objectives against which the success of the project will be judged. Use active verbs. In this section, please also identify how many sub-grants you envision issuing to network member institutions.  

Section 5. Methodology (5000 words) 

Describe in the form of a draft competitive call for proposals, your plan to set up, support and manage the regional research network including thematic priorities and how you will validate them. This section should list key research questions the network will seek to address and show how they will be answered in the most rigorous possible way. You must be clear about what activities are envisaged and how they will contribute to achieve each objective and define the budget in terms of these activities. The network methodology and draft call for proposals should discuss the following details as appropriate: 

  • Network priorities. Provide a robust background outlining the identification of knowledge gaps to be addressed through this call document. What are the main research questions that this call should ask candidates to answer? Why are you proposing those in line with thematic and regional priorities? 
  • Network development and support. Discuss the set of activities that will be taken to develop and support a research network across countries in the region of focus. This should reflect the structure and governance of the network and the monitoring, evaluation and learning activities that are envisioned. This section should also include an explanation for proponents of the configuration of the hub, its intended outcomes, theory of change and the proposed activities the network will undertake. This section is your articulation of what the hub intends to do and should detail how exactly selected projects are expected to contribute and co-design these proposed activities and objectives.   
  • Technical and methodological assistance to network members. Indicate how the hub institution(s) will support selected members of the network in areas such as intersectional analysis, technological transformation and climate change, research communications, research ethics, research design and development, deployment and uptake.  
  • Gender equality and inclusion considerations. Indicate how gender equality and inclusion considerations will be integrated into the project and how the network design with address intersectional issues that women and other marginalized groups experience. See Annex 1 for more details. This should be integrated into the call for proposals as well as the network development and support. We will provide an additional space to expand further on these details. 
  • Contribute to advancing knowledge and policy dialogues. Discuss the set of proposed activities taken by the hub and members that will support the translation of knowledge into policy and action in the respective region. 
  • Sample call template. This should detail key questions for applicants covering, at minimum, the following criteria: proposed research questions, methodology, risks and mitigation strategies, ethics and safety protocols, monitoring, evaluation, and learning, and knowledge sharing or positioning for policy uptake at the project level. Include any other innovative ideas or considerations you deem central to include in the call template, including proposed budgets and timelines for application.    

Section 6. Gender, equity, inclusion and intersectional approaches (1000 words) 

Describe how your proposed hub intends to place gender, equity and inclusion considerations at the center of all activities and approaches. This includes, but is not limited to, the research questions prioritized, all aspects of call design, evaluation and roll out, team composition, network building, and activities related to positioning for uptake, including strategic engagement and synthesis work. This central aspect of the FOW initiative should be clearly represented across your application, but we are creating a separate space to allow you to expand on these aspects in more detail.

Section 7. Fostering learning and knowledge sharing (1000 words) 

In your sample call document, you were asked to explain how your hub will work, its theory of change, and the activities it will undertake. In this section, you can expand on your approach to ensure the hub fosters network building and knowledge sharing between projects, as well as help position results for local and regional uptake. Detail what are the strategies or activities you envision carrying out through the hub, how you intend to secure project´s buy-in and sustained engagement through close monitoring, your approach to provide uptake guidance to projects at the individual level, and your proposed deliverables. This can include outputs like synthesis pieces, strategic events, and learning sessions.

Section 8. Results and dissemination (1000 words) 

Define the major outputs and outcomes expected from the research generated across the network and how the research findings will be disseminated or implemented at an initiative level. Discuss how the research results are likely to be used, what their expected impacts (outcomes) might be and any obstacles to the execution of the research or the eventual use of the results.  

Outline the hub’s strategy for:   

  • integrating research themes to promote coherence and high-quality research.  
  • Knowledge-sharing and key audiences / organizations the hub will seek to involve.  
  • Mobilizing alliance among academic and non-academic partners. Explain who the hub seeks to engage, how and the rationale for partnering with identified organizations or individuals.   
  • Describe how these alliances and knowledge sharing activities are expected to advance the objectives of the network.   

You may elaborate on your theory of change in this section if desired. 

It is important to keep IDRC's open access policy and open data statement of principles in mind when developing your communication plan. This should include not only the research outputs themselves but also, whenever possible, the data that is created and used for training and education. 

Section 9. Organizational capacity and hub management (1200 words) 

Give an overview of the hub’s management, taking into consideration the following: 

  • Leadership of the hub outlining key roles and responsibilities for those involved in shaping the research and knowledge-sharing agenda  
  • the administrative, operational and financial management structure of the hub outlining key roles and responsibilities relating to communication, planning, monitoring, financial management, knowledge-management and knowledge-sharing events  
  • creation and involvement of an advisory committee(s) if planned, specifying their roles, expected contributions and relationship to the hub’s management team   
  • the involvement and expected levels of participation of non-academic partners in proposed activities of the hub and/or its management. Attached letters of support from named organizations will be assessed.

Describe how your proposed consortium, in particular the hub lead, have the required technical expertise to manage a hub, design and implement a competitive call process, manage selected projects providing intellectual guidance throughout the project cycle, monitor progress, and deliver intended results. Reference any prior experience leading a similar modality or mechanism for research support, as well as your own experience leading research on the FOW. 

Describe how the hub lead organization has the required administrative capacities to adequately absorb and disburse funds in a timely manner, manage selected projects, including financial oversight, monitoring, and reporting functions, and utilize awarded funds to support network building and engagement across projects. Reference any prior experience managing funds of a similar magnitude or approach.   

Section 10. Research ethics (300 words) 

Please elaborate on your proposed approach to research ethics oversight within the network. 

Research work must be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards, in keeping with IDRC’s Corporate Principles on Research Ethics. The IDRC standard grant agreement further outlines applicable ethics standards.  

Prior to commencing research, applicants may need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, the applications will need to propose how they plan on setting up an ethics committee for the project.  

After approval of the project by IDRC, successful organizations are expected to submit the ethics and security protocols to IDRC, and to monitor and report on ethical risks and their management as the research is implemented. 

Section 11. Project schedule, budget, data management plan and other institutional documents 

A project schedule or workplan should be submitted and should include a list of key outputs (events or deliverables) and outcomes that can be related to the items included in the project budget.  

As part of the application process, applicants will also be required to submit the following institutional documents: 

  • Budget in local currency.  
  • To be prepared and submitted based on the budget template
  • As a guide, please consult the budget considerations.  
  • IDRC does not make grants for basic operating expenses, endowments, or facilities for individual school districts, colleges, universities, or human services organizations. It does not generally make grants to individuals or make program-related investments. No curriculum projects within individual schools or colleges are supported. 
  • Please identify clearly the proportion of the budget that will be used for sub-granting and how many sub-grants you envision issuing. 
  • Data Management Plan Phase I (see Developing a data management plan: guidance for applicants and grantees | IDRC - International Development Research Centre
  • Institutions and personnel:  
  • A copy of the legal or corporate registration of the organization with whom the applicant is affiliated. 
  • An attestation of your organization's capacity to manage a grant of this size and complexity (largest grants managed to date, compliance with other donor reporting and legal requirements, ability to manage third parties, foreign funds, and disbursements). 
  • Names of proposed principal investigator (PI), research institutions and study team.  
  • For each member of the core research team, this should include information on their respective expertise and previous work in this area. 
  • As an annex, letters of commitment from the leading and collaborating institutions interested in participating, and a description on how the different partners, key stakeholders and institutions will collaborate in the initiative. 
  • The CVs (in an annex) of the principal investigator and proposed team members. 
  • Letters of other institutions willing to collaborate or supporting the study should be attached. Letters should indicate the organization’s interest in the hub’s creation and proposed research theme. It should indicate the potential ways the organization might assist or cooperate with the hub’s management or research teams. It should identify relationships, past and current, with individuals involved in submitting the proposals. 
  • IDRC’s institutional profile questionnaire must be completed, signed, and submitted along with the proposal.   
  • A proposed workplan in Word Format 

Applicants whose proposals are selected to recommend for funding will be required to provide additional documentation prior to confirmation of funding of their projects, as outlined in Annex 2. 

IDRC reserves the right to rescind its selection of a project if it is deemed that the information provided in the application is false or misleading. 

Evaluation Criteria 

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 

Network objectives and design  

  • Well-thought-out objectives that are relevant in the regional context and can make lasting contributions to the field, based on rationale and justification 
  • Logical network methodology to establish, support and manage the research network 
  • Quality, relevance and alignment of the draft call for proposals to the overall objectives of the initiative 
  • Centrality of gender equality and inclusion of the design and objectives of the research network 
  • A clear knowledge translation and peer learning strategy 

This corresponds to sections 4-7 


Subject matter knowledge and expertise 

  • Demonstrated experience of the hub organizations and team members in future of work and economic transformation domains, including a combination of skills development systems, climate change, digitization and technological advancement, including in AI, gender and inclusion and other critical knowledge areas. 
  • Proposed team is primarily led by researchers from the Global South 
  • Preference will be given to consortiums made up of organizations working across disciplines and sectors, including researchers from diverse disciplines, private sector, and civil society organizations with relevant experience in the FOW field. 
  • Connections with regional and global research and policy communities in relevant domains to the skills development and the future of work, to facilitate quality research and positioning for uptake. 

This corresponds to sections 2 and 11 


Technical and administrative expertise in supporting research and/or innovation networks 

  • Demonstrated experience running collaborative research activities and/or networks. 
  • Experience managing calls for proposals. 
  • Proven ability to support and guide researchers and innovators. 
  • Ability to facilitate cross-grantee learning and knowledge exchange through participatory mechanisms both virtually and face-to-face. 
  • Evidence that the organization has the appropriate systems, resources and management capacities to set up and run a pan-regional research network, including high administrative capacities to disburse funds to sub grantees in a timely manner, per the initiative’s requirements. 

This corresponds to sections 9 and 11 


Experience in synthesis, knowledge mobilization and uptake 

  • Clear approach to monitoring, evaluation, and learning 
  • Proven processes to harvest outcomes and results. 
  • Ability to design and conduct research syntheses. 
  • Experience in designing and developing products that support knowledge sharing and use such as high -quality practitioner or policy-maker oriented outputs, toolkits and rapid knowledge syntheses. 
  • Experience in knowledge mobilization for policy and practice improvement, including adequate stakeholder mapping, and iterative consultation capacities with key decision makers to assess and adapt to the policy landscapes.  

This corresponds to sections 7 and 8 



  • Clear and coherent plans for the use of available funding, appropriate for the proposed activities 
  • Proportion of budget directed toward network members 


Selection process 

Responding to this call is the first step in the application process for potentially securing funding for your proposal.  

Applications will first be screened for eligibility using the eligibility criteria outlined above. 

Eligible proposals are then assessed by the internal Future of Work review committee This committee is comprised of IDRC program staff from different related disciplines, including with expertise in gender, diversity, and inclusion, in knowledge translation and/or knowledge users, who will assess the applications according to the evaluation criteria outlined above.  

All applicants will receive notification of the results by July 25th, 2023.

Successful proposals will receive specific comments from the reviewers to be addressed, including suggested budgetary adjustments, leading to a final proposal that is agreed upon by IDRC and hub leads. 

The technical selection of a proposal does not constitute a formal commitment by IDRC to fund the project. Applicants whose proposals are selected for a recommendation for funding will undergo an institutional assessment. This step assesses the potential risk of material loss of IDRC funds due to weaknesses in the capacity of an applicant’s institution to manage or report on the financial aspects of project activities, or because of economic and political conditions relating to the institution's operating environment. IDRC needs to review three broad areas in its assessment of what measures should be applied to minimize such risk: the materiality of the investment; the management capacity of the applicant’s institution; and the wider environment within which the organization operates. 

IDRC will have no obligation to issue any funds prior to the applicant returning an executed Grant Agreement issued to them by IDRC. See “Selection process” for further information.   

Outline of the selection process: 

Full proposals 

  1. The call is launched. 
  2. IDRC will host a Q&A session with interested proponents on May 16th, 2023. Details will be shared on the IDRC call site. 
  3. Full proposals are submitted by the deadline. 
  4. Late applications are eliminated. 
  5. Incomplete and ineligible applications are eliminated. 
  6. A review committee comprised of IDRC staff will read and score the full calls for proposals based on the evaluation criteria. IDRC may need to consider regional and geographic balance, thematic balance of the proposals, as well as a strong focus on gender.  
  7. A slate of applicants is prepared, and those selected are asked to finalize their proposal. (Please note that the technical selection of a proposal at this stage does not guarantee that it will be funded by IDRC.) 
  8. Successful applicants are asked to make any necessary amendments to the proposal, budget, and administrative documentation.  
  9. IDRC conducts an institutional assessment of each applicant invited to finalize a proposal.  
  10. For calls for proposals, senior management at IDRC makes the final decision based on the recommendations of the review committee, the evaluation criteria, and a consideration of the institutional assessment. 
  11. Applicant completes any applicable country approval procedures.  
  12. IDRC and the applicant enter into a Grant Agreement. 

Post selection requirements  

Proposal and budget finalization 

Prior to finalizing a Grant Agreement, IDRC reserves the right to request any revisions to the submitted proposal and budget. A revised proposal with the necessary revisions must be returned in a timely manner to IDRC.  

Country clearance requirements  

In some cases, IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction. 

An IDRC grant administration representative will advise the selected applicant if any country procedures need to be followed. A grant agreement will only be issued if and once country clearance(s) is/are obtained. IDRC reserves the right to not pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within three months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative.  

After an institutional assessment of an applicant’s organization is performed, IDRC may identify operational or financial weaknesses that could pose some administrative risks to the proposed project. In such cases, IDRC reserves the right to request the applicant’s organization to partner with another institution as a condition of receiving the grant.    

Sub recipients  

In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements.  

Country risk  

 IDRC will advise applicants if additional risk mitigation measures may need to be followed. For example where: 

  • project activities may be affected by legal restrictions on transferring funds or other resources to specific entities;  

  • due to physical remoteness, physical risks to IDRC employees in particular regions, or other inaccessibility factors prevent IDRC from properly monitoring and supporting the project; or  

  • applicable laws and regulations prevent institutions from accessing funds.   

Grant Agreement  

Any selected proponents must sign IDRC’s standard Grant Agreement to receive funds. Please refer to the Grant Agreement. The grant agreement will provide a schedule for submitting interim and final technical and financial reports. Although there is no limit on the number of co-applicants in one application, IDRC will only negotiate Grant Agreements with the organization of the lead applicant. 

Timeline and communication of results 

Submission process (approximately eight weeks) 

Call launch: May 1st, 2023 

Information session/webinar: May 16th, 2023 

Deadline for submitting proposals; receipt of proposals acknowledged: June 26th, 2023 

Selection process  

Initial eligibility screening by IDRC: June 29th, 2023 

Ineligible applicants informed: June 30th, 2023 

Internal review by committee: July 17th, 2023 

Successful proposals informed they have been selected for potential funding contingent on meeting any specific conditions: July 24th, 2023 

Unsuccessful applicants notified: July 25th, 2023 

Applicants resubmit amended final proposals: August 15th, 2023 

Information session, inquiries, and FAQs 

Following the launch of the call for proposals, IDRC will organize an information session to address any queries from potential applicants. This will take place on May 16th, 2023, at 8am EDT (12pm GMT). Please join the session here.

Any additional inquiries related to the call and application process should be sent by e-mail to at least five days prior to the call deadline to allow time for a response.   

Any inquiries which affect all applicants received on or before the above-mentioned deadline will be added to an FAQ with IDRC’s responses to those inquiries, and without revealing the source of the inquiries. 

Permission for use and disclosure of information 

As a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this call for proposals will be managed by IDRC in a manner consistent with applicable legislation and IDRC’s Privacy Policy, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public or requests for personal information. For more information on how IDRC manages information in accordance with this legislation can be accessed here.


ANNEX 1 - Ensuring proposals address gender equality and inclusion

IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, and ability. 

Achieving equality varies by place and must be situated within the socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts of the different regions where IDRC works. Equally, inequalities are not static and can vary and change over time.  

To promote gender equality and inclusion, it is critical for research projects to strongly consider investigating the roles of sex, gender and other diverse identities and experiences and their relationship to the history, structures and functioning of these systems. 

IDRC recognizes the importance of striking a balance between ambition and pragmatism. Actions to address gender and other inequalities require doing the groundwork to interrogate and surface the ultimate root causes of inequality; at the same time, changing gendered structural dynamics takes time, trust and long-term commitments to policies and practices. 

The questions below are intended to guide you in reflecting how your research addresses social and gender equality and inclusion, and how you can strengthen these dimensions in your proposal. 

  1. Does your proposal intend to understand and address social and gender inequalities and their underlying causes? 
  2. In the context of your proposal, what are the power structures and power dynamics that exist between men and women, and other groups which underpin gender inequality? What are some possible avenues to address and change these conditions?  
  3. In the context of your research problem, how is this affected by identities or experiences such as race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, income levels and where individuals live (e.g., rural, urban settings)?  
  4. Is there a logical theory of change of how your research objectives will promote or lead to greater gender equality and/or inclusion? What impact will your research proposal have on these aspects?  
  5. Do you have a stand-alone objective on addressing gender equality and inclusion? How are other objectives framed in relation to addressing gender equality and inclusion? 
  6. How will the proposed conceptual framework(s), research design, and related research methods address, and analyze the root causes and context-specific factors contributing to intersectional forms of gender inequality? Which individuals and groups should be engaged in co-creating this research design and its implementation – to what extent and how will they be engaged?  
  7. Has your project identified clear outcomes and indicators with respect to gender equality and inclusion? Are these integrated into project measurement tools? For example, do you plan to collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data? What about gender-disaggregated data? Have you planned to undertake a pre- and post-project gender analysis? 
  8. Does the proposal’s knowledge translation plan integrate sex and gender considerations (including intersectionality) in how the iterative processes of engagement, analysis, synthesis, product development and knowledge facilitation are designed and operationalized?  
  9. Do the members of your research team understand contextual gender equality and inclusion issues? Do you have the right skills and experience in your team? Which of your team members will take the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring, and assessing your project’s objectives to address gender inequality and inclusion? 
  10. Does your research team have a good balance between male and female scientists or scientists of other identities? 
  11. Have you clearly budgeted for gender equality and inclusion activities and staffing? Have you allocated sufficient time and resources to strengthen the capacity of your team, partners and other stakeholders on gender and inclusion issues? 

Please note that these are some myths or assumptions that will be important to avoid in your proposal: 

  • Assuming that women, or certain groups, do a task so that they will benefit is not adequate. Instead, it will be important for your project to identify any gender inequalities and outline steps by which your research will help re-define power dynamics. 
  • Adding “especially women and marginalized groups” after each of your objectives is not adequate. You must be able to define how gender dynamics are present in your research objectives. Research rigour and quality is critical. 
  • The women in your team will not always qualify as the gender expert. Get real gender expertise and partnerships that bring in the necessary skills. 
  • Equally, addressing gender in the project is not only the responsibility of these gender experts – rather the entire team must understand the gender dynamics at play in your research. 
  • Addressing gender takes real resources. Saying gender cannot be integrated because you do not have sufficient resources is not acceptable. Budget resources for gender at the outset. 

Annex 2 – Institutional Assessment Documentation 

Successful applicants will be required to provide the following documents to allow IDRC to undertake an institutional assessment prior to confirmation of funding: 

1. Most recent audited financial statements*, including but not limited to: 

  • Balance Sheet, Statement of Income and Expenses or Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flow; 
  • Notes to the Financial Statements; 
  • Audit Report; 
  • Any Management or Internal Control Letters, and related follow-up response. ​​​​​​

*The latest financial statements duly authorized by a financial officer if audited statement is not available. 

2. Current organizational chart. 

3. Human resources manuals. 

4. Finance and administration manuals. 

5. Policy/procedure for procurement. 

6. List of active external donors and their current contributions.  

7. Latest annual report.