Although women’s employment possibilities have improved with the rise of globalization, women in low- and middle-income countries tend to be overrepresented in informal labor markets, work in precarious conditions, are not well paid, and have few opportunities for learning and advancement. Women often perform jobs that have low skill requirements and frequently choose occupations that are highly feminized, tend to be less socially valued, and pay lower wages.
To improve the participation of women in higher skilled occupations—for example, in the formal labor market—development agencies have created a wide range of programs that aim to improve the skills of women, including vocational and business training. The development of women’s skills through vocational or business training can contribute to improvements in women’s labor market outcomes and economic growth by increasing women's participation in high-skilled labor. However, although several impact evaluations of vocational and business training programs have been conducted, there exists no systematic review about the mapping and synthesis of the effectiveness of these interventions to increase women’s participation in higher skilled, higher valued occupations.
Details of the Systematic Review
This systematic review will be the first to assess the impact of vocational and business training on women’s socioeconomic outcomes. It will not only synthesize quantitative evidence but also the qualitative literature by exploring how structural barriers and facilitators and gender norms influence the effectiveness of vocational and business training for women. This analysis will be of particular relevance for policymakers and practitioners who wish to improve the design of vocational and business training programs. AIR and its research partners from the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE) in Peru are collaborating to do this systematic review.
A preliminary mapping of the evidence in Chinen et al. (2015) suggests that a large number of studies focus on the effectiveness of vocational and business training in stimulating women’s employment in higher skilled jobs and on structural barriers, facilitators and gender norms. This preliminary evidence support the relevance of conducting a full systematic review for policy and practice.