Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank
How can micro and small enterprises best invest in people’s skills and create jobs? And how can we measure the impact of support to these enterprises?
The World Bank’s Ghana Jobs and Skills project – with assistance from the Jobs Group’s Jobs Multi-Donor Umbrella Trust Fund’s Supporting Effective Jobs Lending at Scale (SEJLS) program (grant amount US$150,000)- is helping to answer these questions in the Republic of Ghana. The development objective of the project is to support skills development and job creation in Ghana.
Investments to reinvigorate jobs in Ghana
Despite becoming a lower-middle-income country over a decade ago, Ghana faces slowing overall poverty reduction and many regions falling further behind in improving people’s lives.
Like countries around the globe, Ghana’s high-growth enterprises account for most new jobs that are essential for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. Even these businesses, however, often lack the know-how and resources to upskill their workforces and improve processes. Ghana’s public and private institutions that support enterprises also need financial and technical assistance.
As a catalyst for reenergizing Ghanian growth, the World Bank is helping the Republic of Ghana in its efforts to strengthen skills development and job creation through the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project (GJSP). The project comprises three key components that collectively support the development objective of the project to improve skills development and job creation in Ghana. The first component offers standardized apprenticeship training for individuals through accredited training providers to facilitate entry into labor markets. The second component offers grants to formal and informal businesses to foster job creation. The third component supports the development of job connection services for job seekers and employers.
This blog focuses on the second component, which provides grants to private enterprises to support jobs through the Ghana Skills Development Fund (GSDF) (IDA Credit US$ 60 million). Earlier versions of the Skills Development Fund have been implemented under the IDA funded Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project (GSTDP) which closed in 2016; and the skills development fund (SDF II), implemented with funding from Danish International Development Agency, which closed in 2021. The current version of the fund- GSDF, now in Phase 3, preferences awarding grants to women owned businesses, businesses employing persons with disabilities, and businesses located in regions with higher poverty levels.
Measuring the impact of Ghana Skills Development Fund investments
To understand how the grants support Ghanian businesses and strengthen the project’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E), the World Bank team secured financing from SEJLS, which aims to maximize benefits associated with labor market interventions of World Bank operations globally. SEJLS financed research and development to ensure relevant, dynamic learning on how to strengthen implementation of the Fund’s monitoring system, ultimately strengthening project’s impact on skills development and job creation.
The team undertook the following activities to augment the GSDF’s M&E system, improve the quality of data collection, and contribute to the GJSP’s development objective.
- Understanding M&E bottlenecks: The team reviewed the Completion Reports for earlier versions of the skills development fund to deepen the understanding of M&E-related bottlenecks.
- Understanding institutional challenges for M&E: The team engaged the firm that implemented SDF II and undertook consultations with staff members working on the SDF II M&E to understand the institutional shortcomings such as data collection and storage issues, weak technical capacity, and other challenges that can be improved upon in GSDF.
- Bringing M&E global knowledge best practices to Ghana: The team analyzed the data collected from SDF II and developed new jobs indicators, measurement methodologies, and data templates, bringing in global knowledge of M&E best practices.
- Enhancing user experience: The team conducted focus group discussions with a sample of firms who were awarded the grants in SDF II to understand the issues they faced as users of the M&E system and improve user experience for firms in GSDF, especially those in the lagging regions.
SEJLs also supported the development of the M&E sections for the Operational Manual, which serves as a guide for current and future Fund administrators on M&E and data collection.
Next steps: further strengthening measurement for greater jobs impact
The research and development identified challenges and recommendations for how to enhance the project’s M&E systems, explored in-depth in this note.
Given critical challenges such as limited resources allocated to M&E staffing and initiatives, lack of reporting capacity among grantees, and inadequate infrastructure for data collection, management, and storage, recommendations include:
- Independent performance review: Using a third-party firm to monitor activities and provide an unbiased review of the project’s performance.
- Early development of the M&E system: Strengthening the M&E system before starting the project to enable teams to make informed decisions on project design and improve outcomes.
- Resource allocation: Allocating sufficient personnel and financial resources to the M&E team to meet their objectives.
- Fostering inclusive grants: Strengthening support to firms through intermediaries and monitors that help with outreach and grant applications.
- Testing survey instruments: Designing and piloting data collection instruments to ensure progress reporting at all stages of the project.
- Institutional capacity: Developing a system to facilitate data storage and seamless access to data to inform grant decisions.
- Staff capacity: Training M&E staff on the Fund and their role in its M&E systems.
The team partnered with the mandated Government implementing agency, Ghana’s Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, to help realize these recommendations. While working together, the team also supported the Government to develop indicators to estimate the potential jobs impacts for participating firms. After collecting the baseline data to measure these indicators, the team now has estimates of potential jobs created by grant recipients., providing better selection criteria for businesses and ensured a stronger foundation for assessing the impact of grants on job creation.
This is part of a series of blogs sharing insights from activities funded by SEJLS to support WBG operations in maximizing their impact on jobs