Impact Evaluation of the NYSC SAED Programme

The burden of youth unemployment is particularly huge in Africa, and remains one of the major development concerns. Over the next decade, more than 120 million youth in Africa will be looking for a job but fewer than 40 million decent wage employment opportunities will be available. The major challenge for public policy is how to address the employment deficit and reduce the burden of unemployment. Providing rigorous evidence to inform such policy and practical action in sub-Saharan Africa is the focus of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a joint multi-funder initiative by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies (INCLUDE) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The initiative has provided funding for the first ever impact evaluation of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme of Nigeria's National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

This project is about how to stimulate and sustain private economic activity in the form of new businesses among young persons in sub-Saharan Africa. The main objective is to evaluate the impact of an apprenticeship-based initiative in Africa’s most populous country – Nigeria. The NYSC scheme requires every Nigerian graduate under the age of 30 years to undergo a one-year mandatory national service. Around 300,000 fresh university and polytechnic graduates are mobilized under this scheme annually. In 2012, the SAED program was introduced as a component of the NYSC scheme. Under SAED, each graduate is first trained for three weeks, then left to decide whether to become an apprentice and learn to run a business or not.

This project hopes to determine whether this approach leads to a higher rate of new and high-quality business formation or not. If it does, then we can claim that an apprenticeship-based intervention is helpful in reducing the burden of unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa. Otherwise, a new approach needs to be designed. Ultimately, this project seeks to provide rigorous evidence that will help in improving existing employment intervention designs, and in developing future interventions. Integrating gender in the project is expected to lead to the development of entrepreneurs that are change agents by enhancing their agencies, relations and developing gender-sensitive businesses.