World Bank, Liberia Sign US$16 Million Grant Agreement for Youth Employment and Skills Project

July 29, 2010

MONROVIA, July 29, 2010 — The World Bank and the Government of Liberia today signed a US$16 million grant agreement for the Youth, Employment Skills (YES) project - with US$6 million from the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window (CRW) and US$10 million from the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund.

The project will expand access of poor and young Liberians to temporary employment programs and improve youth employability, in support of the Government of Liberia’s response to the employment crisis. This will be achieved by scaling up existing temporary employment programs, ensuring that they are well grounded in communities, and demonstrating how job-oriented and demand-driven skills development can lead effectively to employment and improved productivity in the private sector and by strengthening institutional capacity for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) providers and regulators.

The project is structured around two components. The first component will focus on bridging the temporary unemployment gap created by the global financial crisis. “This phase will build on the ongoing successful Cash for Work Temporary Employment Project (CfWTEP), financed by the World Bank and implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) and will increase income opportunities for the poor and the youth in particular,” noted co-Task Team Leader, Giuseppe Zampaglione. “The emphasis”, he added, “will be on community-based public works, which can address some of the immediate economic and social needs of poor communities.” This component will also support government capacity-building on monitoring and supervision in the area of temporary employment and finance an assessment of the impact of the program.

The second component will finance formal and informal skills training programs with the purpose of improving youth employability and employment, as well as support institutional development for TVET, especially for certification, policy development, monitoring and evaluation project management, and impact assessment.  The trainings and institutional development will emphasize linkages with the private sector to ensure that the activities undertaken are demand-driven.  Co-Task Team Leader Peter Darvas explained, “In the informal sector, the project will support small businesses and stimulate demand for skills among these employers.  In the formal sector, the project will focus on sectors where demand for low- and mid-level technicians already exists.”  The TVET institutional development activities—which are support under this component—will be leveraged to benefit the skills development programs.

According to the Country Manager, Ohene Owusu Nyanin, “This project will directly address issues of youth employment, income generation, and improved employability consistent with the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and the World Bank Country Assistance Strategy. The PRS recognizes that lack of immediate income opportunities and inadequate skills are key challenges in building the foundation for rapid, inclusive, and sustainable growth. Providing skills to the displaced and marginalized is essential to sustain peace.”

The Liberia YES Project will facilitate more effective coordination by working through existing bodies, such as the LACE Board of Directors and the United Nations Joint Program for Employment and Empowerment of Young Women and Men in Liberia, as well as providing technical assistance to support Government efforts to create national coordination bodies for both social protection and skills development.

Funding for the project was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on June 24, 2010.

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