Skills for Competitiveness – Synthesis of Evidence Report

This Synthesis Paper makes recommendations for future Skills for Competitiveness (SFC) programming.


3 Business Environment Reform Facility (BERF) Evidence and Learning Notes have examined the approach to skills for competitiveness programming taken by 3 UK Department for International Development supported programmes: Private Enterprise Programme Ethiopia (PEPE); Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA) and the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF, Pakistan).

This Synthesis Paper draws together the key findings from each, before making recommendations for future Skills for Competitiveness (SFC) programming. Well-targeted skills development policies are the key to developing and maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly globalized economy. Public good elements justify a degree of subsidy for skills, but meaningful private sector engagement with skills policy is essential to ensure quality and relevance. Women and young people are vulnerable and underserved in the skills market globally but are also a source of great potential for the development of skills for competitiveness at scale. The following recommendations were made:

  • Close consultation with industry is essential in tailoring programming to private sector needs.

  • Whilst an element of subsidy may be required, efforts should be undertaken to secure private sector investment in skills development via PPPs and/or cost-sharing agreements.

  • Skills policy and donor programming should be nimble, innovative and responsive to industry feedback.

  • Skills programmes should be mindful of the complex systems within which they operate.

  • Skills needs assessments should consider both the technical skills required for existing jobs, as well as soft skills required in the workplace, and potential future or transferable skills required for ongoing growth and competitiveness.

  • Bespoke programming may be required to ensure that women are not excluded.

This research is part of the Business Environment for Economic Development programme.


Hilton T, Skills for Competitiveness - Hawassa Industrial Park Sourcing and Training Employees in the Region, Ethiopia. Business Environment Reform Facility

Skills for Competitiveness – Synthesis of Evidence Report

Published 1 February 2019