Youth Economic Security Consultancy at Plan International UK


Plan International UK (UKNO), through its Economic Security portfolio, delivers integrated programme interventions leading to both wage- and self-employment opportunities for young people – particularly adolescent girls and young women – through a combination of skill development schemes, access to finance and follow-up support incorporating the organisation’s Child-Centered Community Development principles.  This approach, referred to at the Federation’s level as the ‘Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) Pathway’, offers much flexibility and can be adapted across countries and contexts, making it a strong tool for Plan to use across its varied areas of operation to address youth unemployment issues.  By continuing to seek avenues to enhance this Pathway, UKNO is committed to providing a consistent, end-to-end accompaniment of youth in their journey towards quality jobs, from the moment they choose an education path to the moment they access the labour market.  In this process, UKNO has identified the need to equip itself with a value chain analysis guide that would support its Country Offices (COs) and project teams in better identifying labour market opportunities available to youth ahead of skill training design and delivery (vocational training, apprenticeship, entrepreneurship coaching, etc.) in order to increase impact.


Business case

It is important to stress that a value chain analysis can serve different purposes linked to value chain development and local economic development – such as creating a more enabling business environment for the sector considered, unblocking market potential, etc.  In the framework of this VCA guide, however,the manual approach would be limited to detecting actual and potential job (vacancy) and market (product/service) opportunities for youth in the value/supply chains and related training needs, including but also looking beyond immediate short-term employer needs.  This could be done through identifying missing functions that need to be filled in, anticipated functions that can be developed through product improvements, etc., across horizontal and vertical sectors of the value chain.  In this sense, the guide must offer some level of depth, while keeping focused and easy to follow as our Country Offices and local partners need step-by-step practical guidance.  The guide, and lessons learnt derived from its pilot-testing, could also feed into future improvements of the online market scan tool currently developed by Plan International, while providing a useful paper version guide to record information and design market relevant vocational and entrepreneurship trainings in areas where access to the internet is inexistent or unreliable.  Subject to the availability of funding, it is expected that in the future this tool will: i) improve the quality of current YES programmes in countries where market outcomes for youth are heavily linked to specific value chains; ii) generate preliminary labour market information in countries where YES related calls for proposals are anticipated (thereby increasing COs’ prospection capability and the quality of proposal design); iii) alternatively, become an inherent, built-in component of YES programmes in initial/inception grant-funded programme phases.


Expected deliverable and outcome

A 15-20 page, gender-sensitive value chain analysis (VCA) guide for use in the field.  The guide would provide a clear, practical, step-by-step methodology focussed on supporting, through VCA, the identification of decent (wage/self) employment opportunities for youth and therefore of the skill trainings needed to be able to seize such opportunities.  As established above, the emphasis of the guide would primarily be on enabling the design of smarter skill development strategies in the context of our youth economic security/employment programmes.  Naturally all other important, interconnected dimensions of the VCA exercise ought to be mentioned in the guide where relevant, but not necessarily developed given the short timeframe of this work.  The guide should also be preceded by a summary of the literature on Good Practices in VCA approaches (in relation to employment creation), and should draw as much as possible on them.

This consultancy should result in Plan CO programme and/or project staff’s strengthened capacity to design market-relevant, demand-driven skill training initiatives, ultimately increasing the likelihood of youth beneficiaries securing sustainable jobs.

 In sum, the VCA guide should be (subject to consultant’s initial feedback):

-          Generic, i.e. understandable and of use in both urban and rural settings by country offices, project staff or related partners in different country contexts;

-          Practical and user-friendly, i.e. offering a graphic step-by-step approach;

-          Focused on strengthening the ability of a sector to identify and exploit market opportunities that can generate jobs, either through wage employment (present and anticipated job vacancies) or self-employment (identification of a niche service or product), using skill training or other forms of skill development schemes (e.g. apprenticeships);

-          Gender sensitive, i.e. identifying and addressing gender issues in guidance related to the different stages/levels of the VCA process.


Suggested approach

TORs for the guide structure will be finalised with the consultant’s expert inputs.  In general, the guide should tackle questions related to the: identification of sub-sectors and value chains with employment potential; how products get to the final consumer; the market dynamics; and relationships between the different actors in the chain.

Some important considerations to be covered (but not only) by the guide, interalia, are:

  1. Sector selection: what should be the selection criteria in-country? (e.g. relevance to local/national development strategies or to the target groups (e.g. young women); (quality) job-rich growth potential; etc.)
  2. Project setup: what are the initial steps of a value chain initiative? (e.g. setting up a team, putting together an action plan and starting with initial research and networking amongst market players)
  3. Value chain mapping: flow chart vs. grid chart?
  4. Value chain research: this part should allow users to raise questions such as, for example, ‘why do young farmers not acquire the skills and receive the information they need in order to increase productivity and enhance the quality of their produce? Why are small young producers not aware of good workplace practices that are already used by others?’
  5. Value chain analysis: this is the part where: i) bottlenecks that prevent the sector from achieving its optimal performance and generating more jobs and higher incomes are tackled; ii) constraints are linked to specific supporting functions and rules within the market system; iii) market players that a) are currently performing functions and b) have incentives to perform certain functions in the future are identified
  6. Intervention design[2]: this is the part where the guide invites users to formulate value chain upgrading solutions focused on skill development (needed to fill in the job vacancy, develop a product, etc. in order to enhance productivity, growth and create jobs/business) that fulfil sustainability criteria.


Possible resources

The consultant is strongly encouraged to review resources under the following link and others as appropriate

DFID/SDC (2008): A synthesis of the Making Market Work for Poor (M4P) approach, for DFID and SDC, Durham (UK)

DFID/SDC (2008): The M4P operational guide, for DFID and SDC, Durham (UK)

Proposed timeframe (details will be worked out in agreement with the consultant)

Expected start: mid-August 2015, for 30 days

Desk analysis/literature review on VCA good practices (in relation to employment creation) +

Outline and compilation of the step-by-step guide: 17 to 18 days

In-country testing/roll-out of the guide and finalisation of the guide: 12 to 13 days



All documents, project designs, drawings, technical data and other information shall remain the property of Plan and shall be treated as confidential by the consultant(s) at all times.  They shall not be made available to any third party whatsoever, in any form, without the prior written approval of a properly authorised employee of Plan.  The utilisation of all proposals, plans and reports and other information provided by the consultant(s) to Plan is the property of Plan and the use thereof is solely at the discretion of Plan.  All documents and other papers, whether in soft or hard copy and whether containing data or other information, provided by Plan shall be returned complete to Plan upon completion of the assignment.  All documentation and reports written during and/or as a result of this study, or otherwise related to it in any way, shall remain the property of Plan and no part shall be reproduced or quoted, or otherwise used in any way except with the prior, express and specific written permission of a properly authorised employee of Plan. 

Closing date: 8 June 2015