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Soft vs. hard skills: long-term evaluations of youth entrepreneurship training programs in Uganda

There are strong indications that education systems in Uganda face challenges in meeting young peoples’ needs. Current curricula and teaching methods do not consistently prepare students for what is to come following graduation. Youth skill development and entrepreneurship interventions led by non-governmental organizations have mushroomed throughout the country in the past decade to fill this gap, but little is known about what works and what is scalable.

This project seeks to provide evidence on the optimal combination of soft (interpersonal/communication) and hard skills that should be considered in skills development programs and curriculum design to enhance the employment prospects of young women and men in Uganda.

Drawing insights from two innovative ongoing interventions that started six years ago — Educate! and Skills for Effective Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) — the research will examine the long-term impacts of youth skills development and entrepreneurship interventions in Uganda. Educate! is a year-long upper-secondary school-based intervention that aims to cultivate social entrepreneurs through a combination of basic technical instruction and a strong emphasis on soft skills training. SEED is a three-week business skills development curriculum for secondary school students that offers combinations of soft and technical skills adapted to the Ugandan context.

The research will shed light on key questions such as the importance of soft skills and personality in determining educational and labour market outcomes for youth; how to create more successful entrepreneurs in developing countries; the social spillovers of skills and of educational interventions in the Ugandan context; and the key drivers that contribute to positive change in gender relations.

The project is part of a cohort of projects aimed at boosting decent employment for Africa’s youth. The project focuses on two niche areas: soft and digital skills and apprenticeship and mentorship models that work for youth. Developed as part of a collaborative effort between IDRC, the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies and the International Labour Organization, the goal is to provide practical guidance and tools for policymakers and practitioners to help realize aspirations for large-scale positive change.

Project ID
Project Status
20 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Melesse
Total Funding
CA$ 430,000.00
Employment and Growth
Innovations for Poverty Action
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Suleiman Asman
Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit corporation

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