- Youth unemployment is one of Egypt’s largest challenges. Yet many Egyptian employers struggle to recruit workers to fill their vacancies.
- We designed and tested three behaviorally informed designs to increase confidence and preparedness among job seekers participating in Egypt’s National Employment Pact (NEP).
- The designs doubled jobseeker persistence in the NEP, and increased job placement rates by 58%.
Egypt has a startlingly high youth unemployment rate of 28% as of 2019, and it is one of the country’s largest social challenges. Yet despite the high unemployment rate, many Egyptian employers struggle to recruit workers to fill their vacancies, particularly in labor sectors like construction and manufacturing.
The National Employment Pact (NEP), a government program, aims to bridge the gap between Egyptian employers and job seekers by providing job search-and-matching services. However, though the majority of job seekers who register for the NEP received job nominations, and plenty of employers have vacancies, almost 75% of participants dropped out of the program before being placed in a job.
Many labor programs are designed to fix market asymmetries, but don’t account for people’s real-world experience in the labor market. Without fully understanding the complexities of job seekers’ experiences and designing accordingly, a program’s good intentions may not be fully realized.
We partnered with the NEP to understand why job seekers are dropping out before placement, and to develop designs to mitigate those challenges. Our solutions included three behavioral interventions designed to help job seekers:
- set expectations for what jobs the NEP can provide
- build self-confidence by prompting periodic reflection on their skills and accomplishments,
- and better prepare for job interviews.
Our interventions were delivered as worksheets that NEP employment officers completed with job seekers during their first meeting. Employment officers also encouraged job seekers to refer back to their worksheets at various points during their journey.
A randomized controlled trial revealed our worksheets helped job seekers persist through the NEP. Participants who completed the behaviorally-informed worksheets during their first interaction were 58% more likely to be placed in a job. Job seekers who received the designs were also 192% more likely to persist in the program and go to additional job interviews if they didn’t find placement after their first interview.
This project demonstrates how behavioral science can provide a unique opportunity for labor programs to better serve their participants, and ultimately provide the social impact they seek–in this case, higher levels of employment, better earning power, and improved livelihoods for more of their populations.