|Non-formal Vocational Training Programmes for Disadvantaged Youth and their Insertion into the World of Work: Towards a Framework for Analysis and Evaluation (IIEP, 1999, 46 p.)|
Of great potential at the local level, non-formal training programmes are but a piecemeal response to a much larger problem which requires comprehensive approaches. Nevertheless, a review of the literature in this field of study suggests that this theme has been experiencing a renewed - though non-systematic - valorization. This has occurred as a result of poverty acceleration in many developing countries, rising rates of unemployment worldwide, and revised conceptions of the informal sector, for which non-formal training programmes have been most often tailored.
In the past, several formal vocational training programmes have been set up (publicly or privately financed) to absorb the student clientele which did not wish or was not able to finish general secondary education (Bowman, 1990). The last decade has witnessed a growing awareness on the part of development specialists and funding agencies that these formal vocational training programmes - due to their minimum educational requirements and restricted capacity - had not been designed to cater to the needs of a highly increasing number of ill- and/or uneducated youth in developing countries. Consequently, the acknowledged mismatch between formal programmes and the characteristics of disadvantaged youth, prompted the rapid diffusion of numerous delivery systems whose services were aimed at this specific clientele.
To discuss: 'a framework for analysis and evaluation of non-formal training programmes geared towards disadvantaged youth's insertion into the world of work' implies, in the first place, that disadvantaged youth is already perceived as being on the fringe of productive societies and, secondly, that a positive relationship between training and the world of work has been previously established, thereby justifying the whole enterprise. Whereas numerous emerging initiatives around the issue of insertion of disadvantaged youth into work1 point to a growing awareness of the gradual 'exclusion' of youth from productive activities, the links between non-formal training and work have not yet been firmly established.2
1 The seminar Jeunes Ville Emploi - Quel avenir pour la jeunesse africaine?, organized by the Minist de la Cooption et du Dloppement, 1992, is a recent example of such an effort.
2 Hallak and Caillods (1981) Education, training and the traditional sector focused basically on the impact of formal education/training on the access and productivity of the traditional sector.
Generally speaking, education and training are known to increase one's chances to earn a livelihood and join the economically active population, besides assisting one's self-development (Kanawaty and Moura Castro, 1990). Consistent with this view is the argument that rising unemployment rates should not justify cuts or reduction in training investments since employment is a function of growth and development, which in turn cannot take place without sustained education and training efforts. Therefore, what seems to be at stake today for advocates of the 'training' potential is not so much whether or not training - be it formal or non-formal -should be provided for, but how the existing training efforts could be adapted to take into account the changing factors (e.g. the demand for new skills and the new profile of labour market entrants, to mention a few).
It cannot be forgotten, however, that some authors (e.g. Fluitman, in Wallenborn, 1989b) question the rushed election of 'training' as a potential area of intervention, when it is not so clear whether training is needed, wanted, or even feasible within the scope of the non-structured sector of the labour market.3 Furthermore, it is worth noting that other variables - linked to the so-called 'supportive environment for micro-enterprises' - are currently deemed as important as training in any study considering effective strategies towards self-employment (McLaughlin, in Turnham et al., 1990). In this sense, it can be argued that training represents, perhaps more than ever before, just one strategy in a compounded approach in favour of social development (United Nations, 1995).
3 The author recalls that it often goes unrecognized that many informal sector workers have been able to acquire certain skills without 'external' aid (mostly through on-the-job experiences as apprentices or unpaid family helpers) which would, in turn, suggest that training may need to take many shapes and forms in the real world, such as the provision for skill upgrading (Fluitman, ed. by Wallenborn, 1989:pp.35-36)
The task of extracting lessons from the field in order to identify elements of a possible framework for evaluation and further analysis, entails a larger understanding of the broader literature concerning theories, concepts and empirical data on employment, labour market structure and education and training programmes. The literature selected and reviewed for this study attempted to illustrate these numerous fields of study.
Finally, the construction of a framework for the analysis and evaluation of non-formal training programmes, based on practices considered either effective or of great potential from a social development perspective, is of particular relevance to the work of international organisms engaged in the task of informing, guiding or assisting in the planning of wider educational and training strategies.