The present report focuses on issues around fostering economic independence of youth within the framework of EPI. The report objectives are to respond to two main research questions: (1) To determine, through mapping, what are the capacities of the Georgian nongovernmental organizations to foster youth economic independence and integration of youth in EPI’s agricultural and nonagricultural value chains; and (2) To develop recommendations for fostering economic independence of youth and their integration in EPI’s sectors.
To achieve its goals, the report draws on the mapping of Georgian nongovernmental organizations focusing on youth economic integration components as part of their work. Another set of research data is derived from consultations with youth, NGOs, private-sector representatives from EPI-relevant value chains, and other stakeholders. The report also draws upon national and international research and data on youth economic integration, economic activity, employment, and education in Georgia, as well as international best practices regarding youth economic empowerment programming.
Based on the assessment data, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with youth, interviews with national and international youth-centered agencies, as well as private-sector representatives, several important clusters of issues were identified in relation to the economic opportunities of youth:
- Employment and employability
- Guidance and mentoring
- Access to finance
- Crosscutting issues: Youth participation, gender, and ethnic origin
Lack of jobs, as well as the inability for youth to determine their career interests at an early age have been identified as acute problems relevant to youth employment. Youth are inactive, often discouraged and demotivated to search for work. Lack of internships or other professional training opportunities was pointed out as a major problem.
Issues around education concerned both the low quality of professional education, as well as geographical and financial access to professional education centers. Another important problem was the low profile of these institutions in the society and lack of trust in the quality of education provided in the centers.
The need for more nonformal education activities was identified by all parties: trainings in life-skills and employability skills, languages, entrepreneurship, and basic business skills were identified as very important and often unavailable or inaccessible to youth living in the regions.
The lack of professional guidance and mentoring was identified as a problem that contributes to low motivation levels of youth and a reluctance to get involved in economic activities.
Inaccessibility of finance was another problem acute for youth. Start-up loans and family funding are often not available for young entrepreneurs.
In addition, youth appears to be less included in decision making in matters concerning their lives, young women tend to experience more difficulties on their way to economic independence and ethnic minority youth have problems with integration and access to services due to the lack of national language skills and their minority status.
Most of these findings were also supported by backgrounds research conducted to explore economic activity, employment, and education aspects of the economic integration issue of Georgian youth.
After a careful review of youth issues and international best practices in youth livelihoods and workforce development programming, several clusters of recommendations have been identified, grouped under four clusters of competencies and assets that successful economic development programs need to transfer to youth:
- Human capital
- Social capital
- Financial capital
- Physical assets
An additional cluster of recommendations on cross-cutting issues has also been identified.
A human capital cluster included recommendations on formal and nonformal education and employability skills training needs, the creation of training and employment opportunities, as well as career and guidance services for youth. The financial capital section, based on international best practice, identified several approaches that can be used to support youth access to funds. Social capital cluster covers issues concerning the need to establish mentorship and guidance schemes, as well as peer-coaching schemes whenever possible. Physical capital cluster covered some of the challenges and opportunities related to the programs equipping youth with work tools or other physical goods after completion of the training programs.
In the light of identified needs and proposed recommendations, in its last part, the report provides an analysis of NGO capacity to meet the needs and contribute to EPI youth integration programming. In addition to describing assets and needs of Georgian youth-serving NGOs, the report provides an individual analysis of each NGO according to its activities, capacity building programs, and track record of successful work with other development collaborators in order to identify their role in EPI youth integration strategy.