Assessment of digital skills supply and digital jobs demand for refugees and host communities in Kenya

Closing date

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is seeking consultancy services to assess the current and emerging skills supply and labour demand among refugees and host community members in the digital economy in Kenya with the view to identify gaps, opportunities and detect specific needs that, if addressed, can generate new employment opportunities for young women and men.

1. Background *

Technical context:

Africa’s growing youth population and the continent’s transition to the digital economy represent a huge opportunity to bolster African economies while addressing the persistent high levels of unemployment and under-employment as well as working poverty among young people.

Kenya’s young population continues to face socio-economic pressures, as economic growth has not led to the creation of a sufficient number of (decent) jobs. Consequently, a major challenge currently facing young people in Kenya is youth unemployment, which stood at 38 per cent in 2019 according to the most recent Kenya Population and Housing Census report. Almost one in seven (13.7 per cent) young people in Kenya were Neither in Employment, Education or Training (NEET, SDG Indicator 8.6.1) as of 2016, with young women finding themselves around twice as often (18.2 per cent) in this group than young men (9.2 per cent).

A further key constraint in the Kenyan youth labour market is a misalignment between labour supply (skills) and demand (jobs). The Kenyan education system, particularly at the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) level, faces a number of challenges including with regard to access, quality and infrastructure, while young people continue having limited opportunities to learn on the job, for instance through apprenticeships or internships. Improving the labour market relevance of education outcomes requires a better alignment between skills supply and demand.

Kenya Vision 2030, the country’s development blueprint that covers the period 2008 – 2030, aims at transforming the country into a newly industrializing ‘middle income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by the year 2030.’ The blueprint recognizes the place for Science, Technology and Innovation to raise productivity and efficiency levels across the economic, social and political pillars. The blueprint commits to an increase in resources to scientific research, technical capabilities of the workforce, and in raising the quality of teaching mathematics, science and technology in schools, polytechnics and universities.

At the same time, the world is witnessing some of the highest levels of displacement on record. In recent years, forced displacement has increased in scale and complexity. While forcibly displaced persons face specific vulnerabilities, including psychological trauma, lack of opportunity and protection risks, host communities struggle to pursue their own development efforts in an environment that has been transformed by a large number of newcomers. The responses to these challenges are becoming more focused on durable solutions to support more dignified, inclusive and comprehensive socio-economic programmes for refugees and the communities that host them.

To this end, information and communication technology (ICT) can enhance education, reduce youth unemployment and promote social and economic development. However, for young refugees to benefit from the transformative power of ICTs, they must be equipped with a range of digital skills and have affordable access to connectivity. The Kenyan economy shows significant potential to harness technological change and ICTs in order to create a large number of jobs for its young people. However, young refugees often face challenges to benefit from technological progress, including because of a lack of digital infrastructure and devices, sustainable power supply, institutional frameworks, educational practices and digital literacy and skills frameworks.[1] In addition, work in the digital economy can suffer from substantial decent work deficits: digital and online jobs can come with highly precarious work arrangements compared to formal well-paid decent jobs.[2] Therefore, it is important to take into account the diversity of the digital economy in Kenya when analysing opportunities the growth of ICT infrastructure and sector offers to workers and enterprises.

Organizational context of the assignment:

To create decent employment and enhance skills for youth in Africa's digital economy, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with the support of the African Union (AU), have initiated a programme with continental reach. The ILO/ITU/AU Joint Programme on Boosting Decent Jobs and Enhancing Skills for Youth in Africa’s Digital Economy has been launched under the aegis of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and focuses initially on six African countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, more information is available here).

The programme framework at continental and national level was developed in consultation with young people, governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, educators and public and private actors in the digital economy. The programme will operate through an iterative cycle of implementing interventions to create jobs, strengthen digital skills and improve employment services; establishing partnerships and networks, and providing policy advice using new diagnostic tools and data showing what best boosts youth employment. Informed by digital economy priorities and plans at the national level, the programme will facilitate exchange of information and learning across six target countries and beyond.

PROSPECTS, is a partnership initiative launched with the support of the Government of the Netherlands bringing together the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF and the World Bank. The programme aims to help transform the way governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises.

As part of PROSPECTS, the ILO stimulates labour market demand and immediate job creation through employment-intensive investments, local economic and business development and promotion of specific value chains and market systems. The ILO also brings expertise on technical and vocational education and training and on the recognition of prior learning for certifying the skills of refugees to ensure better access to the labour market, and methods for assessing labour market demand to provide the right skills to refugees needed by employers.

Through PROSPECTS and supporting the objectives of the ILO/ITU Joint Programme, the ILO in close partnership with UNHCR will work with local governments, schools and training institutions serving youth in Turkana and Garissa, as well as employers and other key stakeholders to better understand and promote decent work opportunities for young refugees in the digital economy.

The assessment will build on and complement related work that the ILO has recently conducted. In preparing for the assignment, particular attention needs will be paid to:

• ILO (2021): Digitally empowering young people in refugee and host communities; What is possible? - A mapping study in Kenya (Link)

• ILO (2021): Towards decent work for young refugees and host communities in the platform economy in Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Egypt (Link report; Link podcast)

2. Objective of the assignment

The objectives of this assignment are to:

I. Develop a methodology and conduct an assessment on the type and level of digital skills available amongst refugees and host communities in Turkana and Garissa counties.

II. Develop a methodology and conduct assessment on skills demanded by employers in the digital economy locally, nationally and internationally for refugees and host communities in Turkana and Garissa.

III. Develop a methodology and assess the capacity of public and private training institutions in Turkana and Garissa to offer market relevant skills including their infrastructure, curriculum and trainer capacities, and provide recommendations for skilling, re-skilling and upskilling. This will include capacities to offer digital TVET content/ manage learning management systems

IV. Assess the intermediation services available for digital jobs in Turkana and Garissa and recommend ways to improve job search and placement including through partnerships with training institutions, employers and digital platforms

V. Assess how enterprises leverage on digital technologies to improve their productivity and recommend ways of enhancing this

VI. Assess and recommend ways of stimulating demand in the digital economy working with employer and business support organizations

Drawing on the findings of these assessments, the consultant is expected to develop to concrete recommendation on how to co-designing digital skills development and job creation interventions and initiatives with PROSPECT partner constituents in Kenya, including but not limited to:

• Develop market driven digital curricula together with TVET institutions, work-based learning training providers and through on-the-job learning opportunities (in person or remotely);

• Deliver digital skills trainings including through training of trainer approaches;

• Improve the digitization of TVET and other training institutions in terms of their infrastructure and capacity to deliver training, including on digital skills;

• Identification and training of careers vocational and career guidance counsellors- working with employer organisations, private employment services

Key research areas that the assessment will cover include:

Digital economy potential and diagnosis in and for refugees and host communities

  • An analysis of digital and e-commerce models relevant for enabling e-trade in the two geographical areas, establishing both demand and supply status.

  • Current and potential job growth opportunities from a public and private sector development perspective including an identification of priority sectors.

  • Determine specific digital market systems dimensions in the target areas (sectors, subsectors, value chains, local market capacity, support institutions etc.) with a view of identifying gaps and opportunities in the market system’ and determining highest potentials for better employment outcomes in the digital economy.

  • Analysis of Innovative infrastructures based on the total number of Research and Development centers (R & D centers), Innovation hubs, Business Process Outsourcing Centers (BPOs), Community Based Organizations and a brief description of the main structures

  • Analysis, recommendations and intervention design that links the digital economy to the inclusion of marginalized groups. Highlight strategies to promote social dialogue, gender equality and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the digital space as well as interventions that will boost decent jobs in the digital economy.

Labour demand side:

  • Growing sectors/occupations in the digital economy

  • Current and emerging skills required by the private and public sector to unlock job creation opportunities (self or wage employment) in the digital economy and the degree of formality of these jobs. Skills will be analysed by type of digital skills and related skills, level (split into basic, intermediate and advanced digital skills) and quantity as well as labour shortages (by type of occupation).

  • Other employability skills that can be relevant to the targeted sectors (foundation skills, core skills, soft skills, business management and entrepreneurship skills, transferrable technical skills).

  • Assess strategies to boost labour demand in the digital economy and the role of public employment services and private employment services in the digital space.

  • Assess opportunities and challenges for refugees and host communities to access opportunities via the platform economy (gig work, short-term contracts, etc), ecommerce, as well as the relevancy for residents to benefit from online job boards and platforms.

Labor supply side:

  • Sets of skills currently available among youth population by type, level, quality and quantity and their level (basic, intermediate or advanced, technical, core) resulting from on-going (TVET, formal informal non-formal ) training courses and programmes over a period of 3 to 5 years up to the current year

  • Training programmes (existing or missing) that are of significant importance to the digital economy (by mirroring skill demand and supply analysis).

  • Assess digitization of TVET system in Garissa and Turkana country: state of curriculum and trainer capacity for digitalization (including use of authoring tools and online solutions to design and learning management systems to deliver theoretical training) as well as state of infrastructure in TVETs to offer market relevant digital skills  Labor market mediation /linkages

  • Study the successful transition from training to work and patterns for successful transitions to income generating activities in the digital economy.

  • Assess strategies to boost labour demand in the digital economy suitable for the target group and location and the role of public employment services and private employment services in the digital space – including the role of career guidance and counselling , job search and placement support

Partnerships and collaboration

  • Explore and analyze existing and potential partnerships for promoting digital skills and creating digital jobs

  • Explore and analyze status of social dialogue in the area of digital skills and economy focusing on the promotion of skills relevance and decent working conditions especially for target group.

3. Scope of work and tasks:

The scope of the assessment comprises the following tasks;

I. Develop an inception report that outlines a plan of action, and contains a detailed description of the assessment methodology (incl. stakeholder engagement mechanism, effective and efficient data collection tools) as well as the time frame for conducting the assessment and completing the assignment.

This task implies:

Review of the existing work on digital skills assessments at national and county level

o ILO (2021): World Economic and Social Outlook : The role of digital labour platforms in transforming the world of work (Link)

o ILO (2021): Digitally empowering young people in refugee and host communities

What is possible? - A mapping study in Kenya (Link) o ILO (2021): Towards decent work for young refugees and host communities in the platform economy in Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Egypt (Link report; Link podcast)

  • Identify and review recent country level studies, including but not limited to the youth labour market situation and the potential of innovation and digital technology to spur job growth.

Define key partners and further stakeholders to help manage the assessment process (building on ILO (2021): Digitally empowering young people in refugee and host communities What is possible? - A mapping study in Kenya (Link))

  • Mapping of key stakeholders in the digital skills and employment ecosystem Suggests mechanisms for regular dialogue /consultation in view of validating the assessment results while strengthening local capacities to institutionalize these types of assessments in the future. .

Definition of methodology and design of data collection tools for the assignment

  • Select appropriate qualitative and quantitative data collection tools (that might include desk research, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, tracer studies, (online) surveys) to be used during the assignment, including a description of the target groups, sample sizes, and relevant research questions for each data collection method/tool.

Drafting of an inception report

  • Present findings from the above together with a detailed work plan, a proposal on how to continue engaging ILO and PROSPECTS constituents and other key stakeholders, effective and efficient data collection methodology and timeframe in an inception report.  Revise and finalize the inception report following comments received from the ILO.

II. Assessing current and emerging digital skills supply and jobs demand in the digital economy in Kenya

This task implies:

Design, finalize and deploy quantitative data collection tools as per the inception report

  • Develop finalize and deploy an online questionnaire for enterprises facing a spike in demand for specific digital skills and occupations due to digitalization ensuring a wide reach of respondents

  • Develop, finalize and deploy an online questionnaire to facilitate a better understanding of refugees and host communities - their skills, aspirations and skill gaps - and to be administered through a relevant sample of individuals according to the programme scope (e.g. youth NEET, informal economy operators). This might include a tracer survey for young individuals that participated in training programmes, including through TVET institutions

  • Ensure that the required number of online responses (to be agreed as part of the inception report) are received to enable sound quantitative analysis. The validity of the filled online questionnaire could be checked via telephone/skype calls. This should be complemented through phone interviews where necessary.

  • Compile and store all collected data through online surveys in an appropriately structured format (to be agreed upon in consultation with ILO/ITU);

Design, finalize and deploy qualitative data collection tools as per the inception report

  • Developing guidelines for skills supply (training providers) and labor market intermediation (public and private employment services) semi-structured key informant interviews, informed by the desk review, and methods on how to systematize and analyze responses.

  • Conduct in-depth interviews with key training providers and designers of formal and informal vocational and technical education with the objective of mapping and analyzing existing supply that is currently contributing to the creation of digital skills and ongoing/emerging training programmes that could be further enhanced

  • Conduct in-depth interviews with representatives of local government and with private and public employment service organizations as well as with business associations and worker representatives to understand their perception of the current skills supply and demand for the digital economy (up to 25 key informant interviews which might be divided by sector/industry). Interviews may be carried out in-person or on the phone and serve to complement the quantitative data collection

  • Document and store contact details, answers, findings and relevant documents and in an appropriately structured format (to be agreed upon in consultation with ILO).  Analyze and synthesize collected data and conduct dissemination of findings

  • Conduct data analysis based on collected data. During the analysis, pay attention to the previously identified underrepresented groups. Comparing these groups’ skills levels with those of the population as whole may reveal skills inequalities.

  • Develop an annotated outline of the assessment report with a brief description of different sections: background, methodology, main objectives of the research, finding based on primary and secondary analysis of data, literature review and in-depth interviews with different stakeholders and recommendation and future actions to be taken by ILO and its partners.

  • Based on ILO feedback on the annotated outline, to submit the detailed assessment report to the ILO for feedback, comments and suggestions.

  • Validate the findings of the assessment report at a meeting with national stakeholders’ representatives.

  • Submit a final report and associated PowerPoint slides to include all required areas of assessment, for reference and any other purpose as maybe deemed applicable by ILO. The copyright for all content produced shall be vested with the ILO.

  • Formulate a dissemination strategy for sharing the assessment report with different stakeholders.

The ILO will provide guidance for layout and design of the reports and PowerPoint presentations. Data, figures and tables need to be submitted in separate excel sheets.

4. Assignment concrete deliverables and timeline

The assignment should be carried out over a period of 45 days. The technical proposal should include the following deliverables, including timeline and a description of the level of effort for each deliverable.


Key Deliverables


Deliverable 1 – Inception Report: the inception report outlines the plan of action and contains a detailed description of methodology to collect data and undertake the research and time frame for conducting the assessment and completing the assignment;

Review consultations with ILO and other key PROSPECTS stakeholders

TBD Deliverable 2 – Qualitative and quantitative data collection tools: this includes final

questionnaires (online survey) and interview guidelines (semi-structured questionnaire for key informant interviews) as well as a list of primary and alternative target groups for collecting primary data.

Consultations with ILO


Deliverable 3 – Annotated outline (ca. 5 pages) of the assessment report: the annotated outline contains a brief description of each section and sub-section of the main report, including an indication which research question is going to be answered in which part and through which data collection methods.

Consultations with ILO


Deliverable 4 – Database of online and telephone surveys (quantitative data collection): this includes collecting data from agreed number of survey respondents (as decided in the inception report) which are posted through various online platforms and conducting a select number of phone to reach populations, who are otherwise difficult to reach.


Deliverable 5 – Database of in-person/phone interviews: this includes detailed notes and/or transcripts of semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with key informants

Consultations with ILO


Deliverable 6 – Draft assessment report (max 40. Pages, excluding annexes)

Review consultations with ILO and other key PROSPECTS stakeholders


Deliverable 7 – Final assessment report following revisions of the draft report as well as detailed slide deck focusing on the findings and recommendations of the assignment

5. Roles, reporting and specific clauses.

• The consultant, throughout the course of this assignment, will report every two weeks to the ILO for coordination and follow–up

• Data collection tools are either provided by the ILO or will be shared and discussed with the ILO prior to their use and mutually agreed on;

• If it appears necessary to modify the tasks of work or exceed the time allocated, the consultant must discuss the circumstances with the ILO and obtain prior written approval.

• ILO may disclose the draft or final report and/or any related information of the systematic review to any person and for any purpose ILO may deem appropriate.

• All data and information received from the ILO the purpose of this assignment are to be treated confidentially.

6. Required qualifications, skills and experience:

• An Advanced University Degree in any of these relevant fields: social science, social policy, economics, development studies, etc.), or a related field with experience in skills evaluations or assessments at country or regional level;

• At least 8 years of progressive experience of working in capacity/skills development, labour market policy making and programme implementation, focusing on skills development and other related fields, and having strong understanding of digital economy in the context of Kenya would be an asset;

• Experience working with refugees and or host communities

• Experience in collecting qualitative and or quantitative data for socio-economic research projects highly desirable;

• In depth understanding of the digital labour market and youth employment trends in Kenya.

• Proven experience in working with and supporting government agencies and/or of large-scale digital transformation or ICT, and skills assessment/measurement projects in Kenya will be an added advantage;

• Excellent working relationships with youth employment stakeholders in Kenya, including governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and youth organizations.

• Demonstrates strong English communication and drafting skills.

[1] See also: Africa’s Development Dynamics 2021: Digital Transformation for Quality Jobs

[2] An example is provided here:

How to apply

Interested applicants are invited to apply by sending a cover letter, technical proposal, detailed financial proposal and CV(s) to titled: 'PROSPECTS- Digital Economy Assessment'. Technical proposals should contain a separate description for each deliverable.

The application deadline is 21 October 2021 23:59 PM Nairobi local time.