Soft Skills Training and Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Youth in Post-conflict Côte d'Ivoire: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial

Soft skills positively affect success and performance in the labour market especially in a post-conflict context. In Côte d’Ivoire, youth do not take full advantage of strong post-conflict economic recovery. Over 20% of young people are neither in the education system nor the labour market and therefore develop criminal behaviours and increase self-esteem and self-confidence, which are valuable for fostering positive outcomes from “hard” skills. To test this assumption, we conducted a randomized control trial on a sample of 700 vulnerable youth, including 250 in a beneficiary group and 450 in a control group. The objective of the paper is to determine the causal effect of the Civic Service of Action for Employment and Development program, an initiative that combine soft- and hard-skills training. Our findings indicate a positive impact of the intervention on the reduction of crime, drug-abuse, alcohol consumption, and violence on the one hand, and significant effect on impatience, life dissatisfaction, and impulsivity, suggesting some gender bias. The program is likely to facilitate social inclusion of at-risk youth in Côte d’Ivoire, though future interventions should include a clear gender dimension to take into account the specific needs of women participants.