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Abstract

Employment opportunities (for youth and non-youth) depend on the development of the economy: structural transformation, rural transformation and employment transformation. In rural areas, employment transformation (to steady, more productive wage employment) takes longer than in urban areas. Strategies to facilitate youth’s entry into employment (the youth-specific employment challenge) have to take account of this. We have limited evidence on how youth handle this challenge in rural areas, and on effects of targeted programmes on this challenge – either the impact of non-targeted agricultural productivity and earnings programmes on youth’s challenges or the impact of targeted youth programmes in rural areas. Certainly, the rural-urban gap in education and learning disadvantages rural youth. Anecdotal evidence suggests that when new off-farm opportunities develop in rural areas, youth are able to access them, while entry into farming may be hindered by lack of access to land. Evidence on programmes in urban areas to help youth enter self-employment may hold lessons for programme design for rural youth. A key lesson is that lack of technical skills does not seem to be the biggest obstacle youth face in entering the labour force. Given that most rural tasks (farm or non-farm) do not require a high degree of technical skill, we can expect that this would be even truer in rural areas. Microfinance (or cash grants) has been helpful in urban settings to help youth start non-farm businesses. Evidence on agricultural extension programmes suggests that peer-to-peer learning works best, perhaps arguing for youth-specific programmes to upgrade farming skills and knowledge, but this needs to be tested.

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