PEP-PAGE project

Assessing the impacts of vocational training programs on youth unemployment in Mongolia

This analysis shows that vocational training programs can be an efficient way to promote employment and enhance youth income in the short term.  Find out more below, or through the PEP Working paper 2017-12 and Policy brief 147.

This team’s outstanding policy engagement from the earliest stages of the project has led to renewed govenment committment to the scheme and changes to the registration process. Find out more below or in the PEP Impact Brief

Research objective and method

This impact evaluation project aims to assess the effects of short-term vocational training programs (VTPs), implemented under the Mongolian government's "Active Labour Market Policies" (ALMP), on earnings, job quality, and likelihood and duration of youth employment in the country. 

This evaluation was conducted through the experimental approach of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) - i.e. by comparing outcomes of interest between groups of beneficiaries (of the programs) and non-beneficiaries, while identifying potential spill-over effects. Find out more about the method

With the economy undergoing a significant shift in activities towards the mining sector, and away from the labour-intensive sector, Mongolia's labour market will be facing considerable challenges in the near future. Meanwhile, the rates of youth unemployment have remained consistently high over the past decade (around 20%).  

In 2003, the Mongolian government introduced a short-term vocational training program (VTP) to tackle the high levels of unemployment in the country, particularly among young people.

Short-term vocational training programs are the oldest and most widely-used of the Mongolian government’s ALMP policy tools  - also the most popular among the unemployed youth - and have been implemented extensively during the last decade. However, no quantitative estimate had been produced regarding the actual impacts of these interventions on youth employment.

The aim of this project was thus to inform the Mongolian government’s future labour promotion-policies of the effectiveness of vocational training programs in promoting youth employment. Also, as the first PEP grant in Mongolia, another key objective of the project was to strengthen in-country expertise/experience in this particular method of experimental research (RCT), which was practically nonexistent among local researchers and policymakers.

Policy engagement

In 2011, in an official state report on MDG implementation, the Government of Mongolia acknowledged a "lack of comprehensive study on labour markets in the country, and the importance of research to enhance the impact of labour promotion policy".

More recently, it created a new Ministry of Labour - emphasizing the importance and new focus on labour market issues - who quickly reasserted the importance of impact evaluation of previous policies at this early, and critical, stage of labour policy reforms. In a letter addressed to the PEP team, in response to their presentation of the intended project, the Ministry expressed keen interest to cooperate with the team/project and to use the research findings to inform its future policies.

The design of the project proposal was thus completed in consultation with the directors of the Ministry of Labor, of the Mongolian Employment Service Center, and the State Institute for Labor Studies, whose inputs were used to identify the specific evidence gaps to be filled and research questions.

Following consultation with the Ministry of Labor, the Metropolitan Employment Department (MED) was identified as another and major stakeholder of the project's outcomes. As the main implementation agency of the VTPs, the team collaborated with the MED to conduct the study. This meant that when the team found the program was not reaching its target population, just six weeks into the project, they were able to quickly and efficiently share this information. In response and recognizing that many unemployed young people do not have a well-developed network in the job market, the MED simplified the registration process and dropped the “potential employer” requirement. The team also prompted the Department to introduce new promotional activities in favor of the training programs, to increase the number of applicants.

Dissemination and impact

On October 27, 2016, the team held a national policy conference in Ulaanbaatar to present their findings and discuss recommendations relating to the impact of vocational training programs (VTP) on youth unemployment in the country. Organized in collaboration with the Metropolitan Employment Department (MED) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection (MLSP), more than 80 key stakeholders were present to find out more about the PEP project and the team’s findings. These stakeholders included government officials, representatives of national and international organizations, industry experts, and journalists.

The Deputy Minister of the MLSP explained that the government is currently considering revising the VTP design, with support from the World Bank and, as such, the research findings are both well-timed and very useful. A national consultant for the VTP reform also presented and MED officials stated that the research results will be considered during the VTP redesign. Additionally, a department head at the MLSP said that the team’s findings will inform policymaking.

The conference was reported widely, including news items published and broadcast leading up to the event. Three Mongolian news websites published a total of four news items, a national newspaper published an article on the research findings and conference aims, and three television channels broadcast news items reporting from the conference, two of which included interviews with the project team leader. Find out more.

Furthermore, following the success of this project in providing high quality evidence for policy, the research team members have become acknowledged as lead national experts in the field. They have been solicited to provide training and consultation on the use/application of experimental research methods in various other contexts.

During a field visit, the team's PEP mentor, Maria Laura Alzua, was also interviewed on national Mongolian television. The interview (in Mongolian) can be viewed online.

Project links and documents

Research team

Find out more about this project - its analytical approach and outcomes - through the following links/documents:
  • Ms. Altantsetseg Batchuluun
    Professor, National University of Mongolia (NUM)
  • Mr. Amartuvshin Sanjmyatav
    Lecturer, NUM
  • Ms. Bayarmaa Dalkhjav
    Senior Lecturer, NUM
  • Ms. Soyolmaa Batbekh
    Associate Professor, NUM
  • Mr. Tsogt-Erdene Baldandorj
    Lecturer, NUM
PEP project PIERI-12375  Impact brief (PDF)
Working paper 2017-12 (PDF) Poster (PDF)
Policy brief 147 (PDF)  

PEP-PAGE video series

The "PEP-PAGE video series" was created to present each of the projects selected for support under the new PEP research and capacity building initiative for Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE) in developing countries. The PAGE program is co-funded by UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC).

This is one of 23 projects that were selected to receive support under the first round of PAGE funding in June 2013. 
Find out more about the PAGE program.

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