Consultant - Tech-Enabled Youth Employment Scoping - Remote
Mercy Corps is implementing a large number of impactful programs that are focused on enabling young people to obtain safe and decent work. These programs have been grounded in a market systems development approach toward employment focused on the supply of job seekers and their capabilities, job creation and the demand for labor, and the networks and platforms that link the two. Our impact has been supported by a youth-led labor market assessment methodology replicated by the industry, and a focus on innovative models and tech-focused jobs in complex settings, specifically our work in West Bank/Gaza and Jordan. Mercy Corps has numerous field and technical staff knowledgeable about youth employment issues and their contexts.
We also recognize that youth employment is a critical and growing global challenge. To address it, our industry needs to implement more innovative solutions. At the same time, we recognize that Mercy Corps has challenges when working in this area, including:
- We lack a strong, global agency point of view and focus on innovative and scalable solutions for youth employment that is sufficiently tied to current trends and evidence.
- We need to do a better job of sharing experience gained from our existing youth employment initiatives across the agency to inform our work across teams and geographies.
- We need to have greater focus to test emerging, innovative models and help them scale.
We believe that technology holds significant potential for addressing the youth employment challenge, from supporting efficient labor markets (e.g., tech platforms for job matching) to unlocking access to project-based work and other income-generating opportunities (e.g., gig economy platforms and digital marketplaces) to supporting the increasing opportunities for remote work (e.g., digital freelancing).
Building on its track record of designing and implementing youth employment programs in the developing world, Mercy Corps is currently assessing opportunities to scale up this work in Africa and the Middle East, with a focus on tech-enabled youth employment (TEYE) initiatives. These initiatives cover a wide spectrum, from “learning to earn” (e.g., education and skill-building programs targeted at preparing youth for jobs), to job searching and matching, to digitally-enabled employment (e.g., online freelancing, “impact sourcing,” microwork, and outsourced coding).
Mercy Corps is seeking a detailed understanding of what works in tech-enabled youth employment in developing markets but also where there are important gaps in the spectrum of existing interventions and the forces/issues that innovative models need to address to be successful (e.g., What are the reasons that women are left out in certain geographies? In what areas are truly new income-generating opportunities emerging that are relevant in the places where Mercy Corps works?). In addition to reviewing external sources, this work will require consultation with internal Mercy Corps stakeholders in order to understand and capture our existing in-house knowledge in the sector and inform how we can build off of this knowledge to create and scale initiatives.
The consultancy will seek answers to the following questions:
- What are the best examples of youth employment initiatives that are enabled by technology in the developing world? In identifying such examples, the consultant should look across the spectrum of actors in tech-enabled youth employment, from INGO-supported initiatives to social enterprises creating novel business models to innovative government approaches.
- What are the gaps in the tech-enabled youth employment landscape? And where are there opportunities for new tech-enabled approaches to the youth employment challenge?
- What are the key trends or factors (i.e. geography, fragility, rural vs. urban, demographic groups, etc.) that should be considered when developing or supporting TEYE initiatives in the developing world?
- What is the evidence of impact for tech-enabled youth employment initiatives?
- For which initiatives does a strong evidence base exist and how are their impact being assessed?
- What is the cost and/or value for money of these initiatives?
By answering these questions, the consultant will help Mercy Corps gain a stronger understanding of which approaches in the tech-enabled youth employment field have the most potential to deliver impact at scale and where gaps exist in the evidence base and in the set of interventions being implemented. The consultancy will also help to identify “best-in-class” initiatives supported by a solid evidence base that are currently underway and help Mercy Corps determine our geographic, customer, sector, and other areas of focus.
The Consultant will:
- Develop an assessment and mapping methodology as well as interview guides and a list of targeted interviewees in concert with Mercy Corps team member(s).
- Participate in regular phone calls with the Mercy Corps project manager for this engagement.
- Conduct a desk review and provide an analysis of the trends around tech-enabled youth employment (including those delivered by market-based actors). This review should include a landscape of key organizations and social enterprises working in the sector, a review of the evidence base and cost-effectiveness of such initiatives, and an analysis of where there are gaps in the TEYE landscape (e.g., do such approaches reach females, or youth living in fragile regions, or rural youth).
- Conduct interviews with key informants that may include:
- Mercy Corps HQ staff (TSU, SV, T4D, etc.)
- Mercy Corps field staff with experience implementing and/or analyzing tech-enabled youth employment.
- Other NGO implementers and market-based actors which are engaged in implementing tech-enabled employment solutions
- Selected industry experts
- Develop and present validation presentation for Mercy Corps team members involved in assessment process outlining:
- Landscape analysis of TEYE; who is doing what and where, including categorizing platforms and solutions to the market functions and enabling environment elements they support or address.
- Gap analysis of the TEYE space (i.e. what have industry subject matter experts identified as places where tech-enabled youth employment initiatives could play a greater, more impactful role)
- What does the evidence say about what tech-enabled approaches deliver the greatest impact, and under what conditions?
- Possible TEYE models that Mercy Corps could pursue, including the strategic rationale connecting such models to Mercy Corps’ strategy, country context (e.g., countries in complex crises or affected by them), mission and vision for change).
- Key strategic and operational challenges Mercy Corps will face in expanding our application of TEYE initiatives (compared to the opportunity and the competition)
- Final recommendations and a way forward for Mercy Corps, including possible technical partners.
- Develop a final report documenting the above points and inclusive of feedback from Mercy Corps staff during validation presentation
The Consultant will produce outputs in 3 phases:
- A workplan for the engagement, including proposed timelines for the activities listed above, and regular updates on the status of the consultant’s work as requested.
- Background research summary, outlining top-line findings from the desk review and key interviews, for review and input by Mercy Corps.
Based on review of research summary and consideration of Round 1 interviews, the consultant may conduct additional interviews and/or desk research
- A workshop for Mercy Corps staff to present the consultant’s review of the evidence base and findings including:
- Key findings - based on research
- Evidence for efficacy of TEYE approaches (internal and external to Mercy Corps)
- Innovations and challenges around implementing TEYE initiatives of particular relevance to Mercy Corps.
- Key messages from stakeholder consultations
- How Mercy Corps can enhance our position as a leader utilizing technology in our employment programming.
- Potential strategic and operational challenges to MC expanding its work in TEYE.
- Final recommendations and a way forward for Mercy Corps
- Key findings - based on research
- A final report of the consultant’s findings and recommendations that addresses Mercy Corps’ comments on the background research summary and from the findings workshop.
Timeframe / Schedule:
The anticipated length of this consultancy is approximately 30 days beginning in March 2019 and concluding approximately in May 2019. While a final timeline will be developed in consultation with Mercy Corps at the beginning of the consultancy to establish deadlines for submission of the deliverables, below is an indicative timeline for the engagement:
- Start of assignment (contract signed) - April 1, 2019
- Phase 1 - Submit initial synopsis of research and interviews - April 30, 2019
- Phase 2 - Presentation to Mercy Corps - May 15, 2019
- Phase 3 - Submission of final report - May 30, 2019
- Master’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience
- At least 5 years of experience working with projects focused on youth employment and job creation
- Substantial experience and knowledge of technology applications that support efficient labor markets (i.e. job matching), technology jobs, and the “gig” economy
- Excellent writing, analytical and presentation skills
The Consultant will report to:
Mercy Corps’ Markets and Innovations team(s)
Interaction with key stakeholders:
Mercy Corps HQ’s tech-enabled youth employment (TEYE) working group team members, field program teams, other MC internal stakeholders, selected external TEYE partners.
Individuals interested in applying for this consultancy must submit materials to Mercy Corps by March 18, 2018. They are requested to include in their application the following documents: CV, writing sample on similar technical area, 1-2 professional references and daily rate.