IFC’s Employability Assessment

To support higher education institutions, IFC has mobilized its resources and knowledge to create an advisory service that supports higher education institutions to understand how well they prepare students for the workforce.

One-fifth of the 1.3 billion young people aged 15-24 are either unemployed or not pursuing their education. According to IFC’s employability research, 57 percent of those who do graduate fail to find a full-time job in their specialty. At the same time, 54 percent employers say they can’t find candidates with the right skills.

Solving the disconnect between what students are learning on the one hand, and the needs of labor markets on the other, is one of the major challenges of our time. Solutions are critical given the increasing pace of digital disruption and the need for skills to manage that disruption, as well as the coming bulge in demand for higher education. Globally, the number of students in higher education will double from 207 million today to 470 million by 2035, and 85 percent of this growth will happen in emerging markets.

Higher education institutions have an unprecedented opportunity to become more competitive and relevant by embracing the employability agenda. First movers will attract new students through strong placement outcomes, founded in best-in-class institutional practices that enable sound graduate employment, within the unique context of each institution and its market setting. This includes imparting the “essential employability skills” required by labor markets: problem solving and critical thinking, communication and collaboration, adaptability, and use of technology.

Through IFC’s Employability Assessment, institutions can evaluate themselves against a benchmark of best practices, to identify gaps and receive advice on solutions. The goal is to equip institutions to understand how, at a very practical level, to prioritize student employability and chart a path to transformation. The process starts with completion of a self-assessment by the institution, which consists of 70 indicators across the following dimensions:

  • Governance and strategy alignment with employability
  • Relevance of learning to labor market needs
  • Employer engagement practices
  • Provision of career services and guidance
  • Alumni management
  • Outcomes data for student retention, graduation, and employment (post completion of studies)

The self-assessment is complemented by a survey of students and alumni, as well as with a series of qualitative interviews with faculty, administrative staff, institutional leadership, students, alumni, and employers.

IFC’s Employability Assessment offers a 360-degree view of how well the institution is set up to deliver on employability outcomes for its students. The assessment is a learning tool that provides management with an evaluation against benchmarks and specific recommendations on how to meaningfully improve processes and implement best practices for employability. Once the assessment is completed, IFC supports institutions in the implementation of recommendations through the provision of training and hands-on advisory services.

IFC has successfully rolled out employability assessments with our higher education clients in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. IFC is now delivering this advisory service to higher education institutions outside of its client network – both private and public institutions – to make a greater positive impact and support the employability of students in higher education around the globe.

The initiative will be an important addition to IFC’s suite of knowledge and advisory services for the education sector that extend beyond its financial investment instruments. The program will help institutions to align their teaching curriculums to the needs of the marketplace while providing greater connections between students and employers. In this way, students will have a better opportunity to become successful professionals within their fields of endeavor upon graduation.


IFC Senior Education Specialist Mohammed Ali Khan joins Classic FM in Johannesburg to talk about IFC’s advisory program for helping universities improve employment prospects for students.


Tania Lozansky
Global Head—Advisory, Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services
Aliza Marcus
Senior Communications Officer