On International Youth Day, IYF and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released Measuring Investments in Youth Economic Opportunity. The timing of the report's release was meant to highlight the critical nature of integrating young people in the workforce and financial systems.

The report examines global funding for initiatives and programming aimed at preparing young people for success as employees and entrepreneurs with an understanding of money management and available financial services. The broad term of youth economic opportunity (YEO) includes technical and vocational training, life skills development, work readiness programs, job placement services, entrepreneurship support, and financial inclusion.

In an introduction to the report published on the CSIS website, authors Ritu Sharma and Rohan Naik describe the reasoning for conducting the research, the methods used, and the challenges they encountered. The main roadblock was the limited availability of data. The challenge, as they describe it, has two parts: YEO can be "baked into" broader initiatives, which makes it impossible to extract a precise number, or the information is privately held through a human resources department or charitable giving figures. Still, Sharma and Naik combed thousands of documents to produce a report that demonstrates just how great the need for YEO really is.

Using data from 2014, the most recent year with publicly available figures, Measuring Investments in Youth Economic Opportunity compares YEO investments by region, sector, program type, and source. It also stacks the total figure for investments in YEO side by side with those made in other development sectors, for example, primary education.

Their findings indicate that, at $1.8 billion, investments in YEO are barely comparable to those made in areas such as water and sanitation ($12.9 billion) and agriculture ($12.6 billion). Even if YEO investments were tripled, the report's introduction calculates, it still wouldn't be as much as is spent on donor administrative costs ($8.3 billion).

While Sharma and Naik acknowledge that the challenges associated with gathering the data make this number  artificially low, the exact result does not detract from the true point of the research. "One way to assess how seriously the world takes this imperative is to see where the money is," they write. "The intent of this analysis was not to get the exact number 'right.' It was to shine a light on a critical area of global development that demands our urgent attention and to begin a conversation on better data on investments in youth economic opportunity."

Visit the CSIS website to read the authors' introduction, and find the full report, Measuring Investments in Youth Economic Opportunity, in the IYF library.