REGIONAL YOUTH EMPLOYMENT ADVISOR – Africa
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.
In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.
Africa is an incredibly young continent, with a median age of 19.7 years. Facing rapid urbanization, labor markets that remain highly informal and unstructured, and job creation rates that cannot keep up with the pace of youth entering the employment market, youth unemployment will be one of the most significant challenges facing Africa in the decades ahead. 18 million young people enter the labor force each year in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet only 3 million formal sector jobs are currently being created annually- a gap of 15 million that is compounded each year. While most young people in Sub-Saharan Africa are forced by poverty to find some form or work, these opportunities tend to be highly informal, offer little job stability and limited potential for growth, and work conditions are often dangerous. Young women and girls tend to be more disadvantaged and to find themselves in especially vulnerable employment conditions. Despite these enormous challenges, the continent has seen promising advances in the Youth Employment sector in recent years, as key economies continue to grow and modernize, and technology offers opportunities to democratize access to education and services, link job seekers and employers in new ways, and expand job access through digital work opportunities.
Given the enormous demographic and employment challenge facing Africa in the decades ahead, Mercy Corps has decided to prioritize youth and their needs within our Africa strategy, partnering with youth to unlock their potential and put young people in the driver’s seat of leading transformative change across the continent. We seek to become a key partner of donors, the rapidly growing African private sector, and other key institutions in operationalizing innovative solutions to youth employment, positioning ourselves to drive innovative and scalable solutions to Africa’s youth employment challenge across our portfolio, and to elevate our thought leadership on a regional and global scale. Mercy Corps uses a systems-based approach to understand and embed solutions within labor markets in order to unlock opportunities for job creation at scale, and we leverage technology to accelerate and extend our reach. Working in 17 countries across Africa, all of which are facing momentous humanitarian crises and/or significant development challenges, we see tremendous opportunities to deliver transformative programming that can drive job creation for millions of young people across Africa. The Regional Youth Employment Advisor will be part of the Regional Technical Support team based within the Africa Region, working closely with our country and regional teams to design and deliver high-impact programming, harness and scale technology solutions, drive partnerships, and elevate thought leadership to position Mercy Corps as a key actor on youth employment in Africa.
The Regional Youth Employment Advisor will advance our country and regional-level youth employment strategy, working with regional leadership, country teams, global and regional technical support teams and partners to achieve 5 primary objectives: 1) partner in the design and delivery of innovative and high impact programs across the continent that leverage best practices, build and replicate innovative partnerships, and build Mercy Corps’ portfolio of youth employment programs across the region; 2) provide remote and in-person technical support to Mercy Corps’ program teams to conduct youth labor market assessments, identify and integrate technology solutions or build on best practices to enhance the delivery of gender-equitable youth employment programs; 3) train, mentor and support a cadre of youth employment specialists from across our country programs, leading and animating a lively working group of youth employment practitioners from across the region to promote cross-learning, resource sharing and collective visioning; 4) partner with country and global teams to generate and support strategic research pieces, lessons learned documents, position papers, and other thought leadership pieces and drive a thought leadership agenda to elevate Mercy Corps’ status as an innovative thought leader within the youth employment space; 5) identify and deepen strategic partnerships with key social enterprises, technology and innovation firms, private sector entities, government and donor agencies, peer organizations, think tanks and academic institutions in order to grow strategic partnerships to expand our reach and influence.
This position will work closely with the global Markets Technical team, the Young People and Protection team, the Innovation team, the T4D team, and the Mercy Corps Ventures team to ensure that the Africa region is driving the agency’s innovative programming and thinking on youth employment. The Advisor will play a technical liaison role with key partners and donors, and will help teams design, innovate, partner and ultimately succeed in delivering evidence-based youth employment programs. The position will be housed within the Regional Technical Support Team, reporting into the Senior Regional Technical Director, supporting our regional and country teams to advance our Africa regional strategy and ensure that agency strategies, approaches, and partnerships are leveraged to attain youth employment outcomes across the diverse Africa portfolio.
Thought Leadership & Strategy
● Spearhead the development of an Africa Youth Employment Strategy, establishing a bold vision for our Youth Employment/Tech-Enabled Youth Employment work which will serve as roadmap and approach document to guide and unify our youth employment work across the region.
● Support Mercy Corps’ regional and country teams to undertake visioning, strategic planning and execution of innovative youth employment strategies at the regional and country level and work with countries to support their annual planning efforts around youth employment.
● Represent the Africa region within the Agency’s Youth Employment Compass Steering Group, helping to shape the agency’s strategic priorities and approaches to achieve our youth employment objectives and ensure that the Africa Region’s priorities and accomplishments are visible within this group.
● Serve as key technical resource within the region for the agency’s Tech-Enabled Youth Employment (TEYE) and wider Youth Employment strategy, including support to key target countries in the region to build their strategies, identify partnerships, leverage resources, and build learning and thought leadership.
● Ensure that Mercy Corps’ Youth Employment programs take a strong gender approach to promote gender-equitable employment outcomes and enhance opportunities for women and girls.
● Contribute to agency-wide youth employment efforts and communities of practice and ensure that Africa’s priority youth employment areas of focus are reflected within the Agency’s youth employment strategy.
● Develop and support a research, learning and thought-leadership agenda, and work closely with other parts of the agency (TSU, Research, Media and Comms, etc) to advance the agency’s learning and position Mercy Corps as an innovative and leading thinker and practitioner on innovative approaches to youth employment/TEYE within Africa.
● Work in partnership with regional PaQ team to build M&E systems and indicators to understand the impact of our youth employment programs at the country and aggregate level, and to develop communications and reports to highlight our impact and success stories.
● Support internal and external communication efforts (articles, case studies, conferences and forums) to highlight to Mercy Corps’ youth employment work in Africa.
Program and proposal development
● Contribute to or lead proposal development efforts for country-level and regional youth employment programs, with a focus on identifying and scaling innovative partnership models, leveraging best practices, and harnessing Mercy Corps’ key technical approaches within the design of new programs.
● Provide country teams with technical support, coaching and mentorship to ensure high quality youth employment outcomes within programs, especially during start-up/kick off of complex programs and key donor programs.
● Conduct program quality support visits to key youth employment programs within the region.
● Engage in the development of proposals for key foundations and Big Bet donors to drive innovative ideas and partnerships and advance Mercy Corps’ TEYE compass objective, connecting with other global sector teams to integrate best practices, innovative approaches, and program evidence/learning.
● Provide support for prepositioning and new program design efforts.
● Cultivate and nurture donor relationships and strategic partnerships that may result in stronger or more impactful program development efforts, particularly with SIDA, DFID, Mastercard Foundation, AFD and USAID.
Coaching and Mentorship
● Lead the Africa community of practice of regional, country-level, and project based youth employment specialists. Work closely with regional technical specialists, program managers, field and HQ teams as required to ensure a dynamic and learning-focused community of practice exists at the regional level.
● In partnership the global TSU teams, lead training/capacity building efforts aimed at strengthening the skills of youth employment specialists and champions across the region.
● Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and Identify opportunities to strengthen technical knowledge through training, coaching and mentorship.
● Support country teams to develop position descriptions and undertake hiring processes for youth employment advisors, program managers, and other positions that require significant youth employment experience.
Learning and impact
● Work closely with the PAQ Department to establish assessment, monitoring and evaluation frameworks and indicators to measure and improve upon program quality and impact within our portfolio of youth employment programs.
● In collaboration with the PAQ department, contribute to the set-up and implementation of a lessons learnt system to capture learnings on youth employment programming across the region.
● Develop key learning and impact briefs to articulate our regional impact on youth employment outcomes across our regional portfolio.
Influence & Representation
● Represent Mercy Corps at relevant conferences, forums, and events to elevate our relationships and establish our voice as a thought leader within this sector.
● Identify and nurture strategic partnerships with other organizations, donors, institutions and local actors to build our credibility and reputation as a key thinker and implementer of innovative and high-impact youth employment programs in the region.
● Build relationships and partnerships with key organizations, social enterprises, and innovation firms working on youth employment and identify opportunities to test and scale partnerships within the region.
● Present concepts and ideas to donors, partners, and peer organizations that influence their decisions.
● Support internal and external communication efforts (articles, case studies, conferences and forums) to highlight to Mercy Corps’ youth employment work in Africa
● As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to Beneficiaries
● Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically
to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
Consultants, short-term assignments, interns
Reports Directly to: Africa Senior Technical Director
Works Directly with: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Directors, Country Directors and Directors of Programs, Program Directors/Managers implementing youth employment-focused or multi-sector programs, Regional and Global Technical Support Unit, Africa Youth Employment Working Group members, TEYE Working Group
Knowledge and Experience
● Master’s degree in international development, business administration, social innovation or a comparable area of study preferred
● 5-7 years of experience in international development work, with a minimum of three years in a program management or technical advisor role.
● Minimum of three years of experience in youth employment technical work including experience with program design, partnership building, capacity building/training, youth empowerment,
● Substantial background in Tech-Enabled Youth Employment. Experience in market systems development.
● Experience working in Africa required
● Strong writing skills required
● Strong presentation and representation skills required
● Proficiency in French highly preferred
● It is expected that this position will travel to Mercy Corps country offices within the Africa region, including insecure environments, for up to 40% of time
The Africa Regional Youth Employment Advisor will be a highly innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial leader able to build and deliver on a vision to drive impact on youth employment outcomes across the region. The successful Advisor will have strong networking and partnership building skills, and be able to vision opportunities to structure partnerships, drive new ways of working, and successfully partner with a variety of different actors, including social enterprises, private sector partners, think tanks, and governments to leverage diverse contributions to drive impact and innovation at scale. The Advisor should have experience with program design and proposal development, have an ability to translate technical theory to address real world complexities through tangible program interventions, and be skilled in representing programmatic ideas to donors and investors to secure partnership and resources. The individual should have the proven ability to influence donors, partners, and peer organizations and to represent complex ideas within conferences and other forums to advance thought leadership objectives. The Regional Technical Advisor role requires strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills, and a level of emotional intelligence that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. S/he should be collaborative, with strong teamwork skills and a demonstrated commitment to build technical skills of technical team members across diverse contexts and backgrounds. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions
This position is based in one of our Africa office locations and is expected to travel up to 40% within Africa.
Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a country posting or on a visit/TDY to a country program. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.