Designing Technical and Business Skills Training

AGI Lessons Learned

Design technical and business skills training to break occupational sex-segregation in the labor market. Projects should channel young women into trades and sectors where they will have opportunities to get good jobs. Budget time into the project cycle to educate girls about the array of options available to them.

Curriculum development takes time, so plan ahead! Nearly all the AGI pilots scrambled to develop project curricula after the project had already begun. Ideally, curriculum development should begin as soon as the skill constraints and labor market opportunities are identified. After the project begins implementation, curriculum should periodically be revisited and edited to reflect the teaching situation.

Engaging the private sector and prospective employers in the design and development of skills training programs is critical to ensure the training responds to the labor market's specific needs and demands. Tailoring trainings to private sector needs and formalizing upfront placement agreements with companies can help ensure that skills training is demand-driven and that there are placement opportunities for graduates.

It is important to deliver basic business skills training along with job skills training in contexts where wage employment opportunities are limited. In Liberia, for example, the project provides basic entrepreneurship skills to all participants, given the limitations of how many trainees can be placed in wage employment. Beginning in 2012, Nepal also began to offer business training to all participants in case they couldn’t find a wage job.

Before the project begins, assess the target population's literacy level. Consider literacy contraints in the diagnostic phase of project design. Remember to disaggregate the data by sex as young women have greater literacy constraints in many contexts, contributing to their exclusion from youth employment projects.

Design curricula and teaching strategies to be accessible to low-literacy learners. Internationally-tested curricula for low-literacy learners are available (see Further Reading). Curriculum for low-literacy audiences should be participatory and activity-based; it should rely on pictures, avoid being too text-heavy, and use simple vocabulary. Keep in mind that trainers themselves may have limited literacy skills in some contexts and, therefore, teaching guides should also use simple language.

Job and business skills training projects are designed to teach various hard or cognitive and technical skills needed for both wage and entrepreneurial employment. The training focus and the training curriculum development should be informed by the end goal—ensuring that trainees become employed after the training. The skills training—both in terms of the content and the appropriate pedagogy--should be informed by the diagnostics discussed previously.

Training can address a variety of different types of skills required for successful employment, such as:

  • Business development and entrepreneurship skills such as entrepreneurship principles, market analysis/pricing and marketing, business management, customer service, money management, record-keeping, financial literacy
  • Industry and trade-specific technical skills such as vocational training
  • Administrative and management skills such as basic computer skills

Skills training projects should take an active role in challenging gender biases in the labor market and breaking sex-segregation. Young women are often channeled into low-employment, low-productivity jobs, contributing to the gender earnings gap. In the diagnostic phase, AGI pilots explicitly identified demand-driven job opportunities in male-dominated sectors. The pilots then provided participants with information about these opportunities and the potential returns to dispel misconceptions and encourage them to consider a wider array of options. For example, the Rwanda AGI organized a two-week induction period to orient the participants to various trades before allowing them to choose which trade to study. Nepal conducted an advertising campaign to encourage young women to pursue nontraditional trades (such as mobile phone repair, motorcycle repair, masonry, and electricity) and to sensitize their families and communities to the project. However, information alone is insufficient; the pilots also provided mentoring and placement support to help participants succeed in nontraditional fields.

AGI pilots delivered job and business skills training over the course of one to six months. The technical and business skills training varied across the projects according to the diagnosis of knowledge and skill deficits among the target populations and the specific trades and industries with identified employment opportunities.

AGI Technical and Business Skills
Development Content Resources


Technical and life skills curricula developed by the NGO training provider

Eight months, five days per week with morning and afternoon sessions of technical training in one of the following:
  • Computer skills (typing, WindowsTM operating system and Office SuiteTM, Quick BooksTM, video editing, Internet)
  • General management
  • Administration
  • Communication
  • Financial accounting and bookkeeping
  • Marketing


Curriculum developed by four private sector training companies that implemented the technical trainings

Four to six months of technical training in one of the following nontraditional fields: 
  • Mechanics
  • Refrigeration
  • Electricity
  • Construction
  • Computer science
  • IT Essentials: PC hardware and software
Resource icon Haiti Technical Training Curriculum


Curriculum developed by service providers, in coordination with the EPAG project team. A private sector advisory group to the project—the Employers’ Advisory Committee—provided input and feedback on the curriculum.

Six months of skills training in job skills or business development skills Job skills training was offered in the following fields (during the pilot):
  • House and office painting
  • Hospitality
  • Professional driving
  • Office and computer skills
  • Security guard services
  • Professional cleaning and waste management

Job skills trainees also received “light” business skills training in:

  • Entrepreneurship principles and business management
  • Financial literary

Business development skills training included:

  • Entrepreneurship principles
  • Market analysis
  • Business management
  • Customer service
  • Money management
  • Recordkeeping

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Curriculum Development Guidelines

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Business Development Skills Curriculum

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Business Development Skills Image Book

Resource icon Liberia EPAG JS Painting Curriculum

Resource icon Liberia EPAG JS Hospitality Curriculum


Curriculum were developed by private sector training and employment (T&E) providers.

One to three months of technical training spanning 39 occupations
  • Examples of nontraditional trades include: building and industrial electrician, computer repair and maintenance, construction carpenter, plumber, security guard, wood carver

One week (30 hours) of business and enterprise skills training for those interested in starting a business

Resource icon Nepal Business Skills Training Factsheet

Resource icon Nepal Factsheet on Non-Traditional versus Traditional Trades for Women

Resource icon Nepal Factsheet on Women's Views on Training and Strategies for Employment in Non-Traditional Trades


Curriculum for all trades except arts and craft were developed by the Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (WDA) and improved upon by an independent curriculum consultant. A private sector partner that also delivered the training developed the arts and crafts curriculum. Frontier Adventures, an independent training agency contracted by the government, developed business skill curriculum.

Two weeks of business skills training plus five months of technical training in one of the following:
  • Arts and crafts
  • Culinary arts
  • Agribusiness (nursery beds and beekeeping)
  • Food processing
Resource icon Rwanda Business Skills Curriculum

South Sudan

Local training providers were hired from various technical centers to conduct the training courses. The trainings were organized in cooperation with Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Animal Resources. The financial literacy curriculum was developed by BRAC, the implementing agency.

Short (one week to three months) livelihood trainings were offered based on the interest of members and demand in the local market in the following:
  • Tailoring
  • Salon
  • Agriculture
  • Poultry farming
  • Goat rearing
  • Catering
  • Carpentry
  • Small business

Financial literacy coveried:

  • Budgeting
  • Savings
  • Accounting
  • Pricing / marketing
  • Customer service

Resource icon South Sudan Financial Literacy Curriculum

Resource icon South Sudan Agriculture Training Curriculum

Literacy is a key enabling factor for acquiring technical and business skills, and can boost self-confidence and motivation for learning. As such, projects may need to adapt curriculum and teaching approaches for illiterate audiences or provide foundational literacy skills within the technical training, as was done in Liberia. In fact, international experience suggests that skills training projects are generally more effective for trainees with some basic literacy skills. However, the type of youth who are most in need of an employment program may not be literate. This may be particularly true for young women; in many settings females have lower literacy than their male counterparts and can be excluded from skills projects on this basis. In fragile and post-conflict settings, oftentimes everyone will have literacy/numeracy constraints, even if they have completed primary education.

Strategy Rationale Resources and Tools
In Liberia the project decided that basic literacy would be a requirement for selection, but many of the girls who were interested in the program were illiterate. As a result, a literacy and numeracy strengthening component was integrated into the classroom training. EPAG used a peer grouping strategy (grouping low and high literacy learners) to help improve girls’ performance in the training. Working in pairs, EPAG trainees jointly review and help each other with lessons and homework, encourage one another to attend classes, manage workloads, and so on. Projects need to be tailored to low-literacy learners and include some basic literacy training if:

(a) the project objective is to reach more vulnerable youth, and/or

b) the youth with the greatest demand for the project are low-literacy.

Resource icon NAEAL Literacy and Numeracy Strengthening Final Report

Tool icon EPAG Literacy Assessment Tool

Resource icon EPAG Team Approach Strategy

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