Skills for Work

Program Spotlight

MASK: Strengthening Creativity and Innovation in Young People in East Africa

Mobile Art School in Kenya (MASK) employs a comprehensive approach to its work in promoting learning for creativity and innovation through art. MASK believes that creativity and innovation are essential and powerful contributors to economic growth and poverty alleviation, but believes that creative education in East African schools is unacceptably limited.

Background on Skills for Work

Just over half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, with almost 90 percent living in low- and middle- income countries— particularly in Africa and the Middle East. In 2012, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had the youngest population in the world, with more than 70 percent of their population below 30. This demographic divide can be an asset for developing economies, but such disproportions also raise challenges. For many of these emerging nations, booming youth populations are not receiving the skills they need to compete in the current labor market. The result can be seen in countries like South Africa, where the youth unemployment rate climbs past 53 percent.

To tackle this issue, many education programs around the world have developed effective strategies to equip teenagers and young adults with the training and skills necessary for work. The Center for Education Innovations (CEI) has identified more than 130 such programs.

Database At-A-Glance

Click below to read our Database-at-a-Glance report and find highlights from seven common approaches & characteristics across ECD models. Learn about programs focusing on:

1) General skills curricula for workforce trainings
2) Targeted skills development for certain trades
3) Emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
4) Providing career guidance, support, and mentoring
5) Partnering with local businesses
6) Awarding funding for business ventures
7) Reaching marginalized youth through skills development and vocational training


Use this topic page to explore programs and resources related to preparing young people for meaningful work, whether in the informal or formal sector. Here you will find programs ranging from innovative finance mechanisms enabling individuals and entire cohorts to acquire technical skills, to mentorship and placement programs that ensure those skills are transferred to the workplace. You can also browse resources related to the impact of skills development on countries and their economies.

Skills for Work Programs in the CEI Database

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