Market System Development for Employment Consultant

Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. TSU subject-matter experts help set agency strategy and provide consultation to field offices worldwide – from assessment and design through project implementation and results measurement, to program closure. 

Mercy Corps’ youth employment work is at an exciting moment. It currently includes a portfolio of roughly 50 programs globally and is focusing around two technical areas; (a) market system development (MSD) approaches to youth employment; and (b) engagement with ‘jobtech’ or digital solutions to employment. For each of these areas, the TSU maintains a ‘portfolio’ of programs adopting these approaches, which benefit from increased technical assistance, research, and support as part of an internal community of practice.

Purpose / Project Description:

The purpose of this consultancy is to promote and advance Mercy Corps’ MSD4E work at the global and regional level with the goal of improving quality, increasing the number of Mercy Corps programs applying the MSD4E approach, building evidence, and influencing others in the field, in alignment with Mercy Corps’ Pathway to Possibilities strategy.

An important purpose of this role is to encourage cross-learning between programs, and to operationalize cross-cutting approaches in MSD for Employment programming. For that reason, it is preferred that the consultant who undertakes this assignment also has the capacity to take on other consultant assignments supporting MSD4E programs within the portfolio – specifically those in Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Ethiopia (note these Scopes of Work have not been published yet). However, as it is more critical to find cover for the necessary tasks rapidly, we are willing to consider different consultants for different components of the role in the short-term.

Consultant Objectives:

In this three-month consultancy period, the Consultant will work closely with the global Markets Technical team, the Young People and Protection team, the GESI team and other relevant technical support teams to ensure that the Africa region is driving the agency’s innovative programming and thinking on youth employment. The Consultant will play a technical liaison role with key partners and donors, and will help teams design, innovate, partner, and ultimately succeed in delivering evidence-based youth employment programs. They will also play a part in supporting the design of new programs, building on learning from existing programs.

Consultant Activities:

Business development:

  • Support proposal development for new concept notes and proposals in Africa, feeding in lessons from existing MSD4E programs. A key focus will be supporting up to three USAID and EU funded Concept Notes on which work has already commenced.
  • Learn, apply, and input on the “Resilient Youth through Systems Engagement” approach, particularly in concept notes and proposals
  • Support on donor presentations where needed
  • Communities of practice, training and guidance
  • Support the Director of Youth Employment with planning and promoting the next MSD for Employment training
  • Support the COP lead in nurturing the Mercy Corps MSD4E Community of Practice, as required
  • Support the global MSD4E Community of Practice (facilitation in meetings, inputs to and supporting dissemination of landscape assessment, input to newsletters and LinkedIn group as required) 

Communication and influence:

  • Provide inputs to regular communication channels – YE newsletter, TSU newsletter, internal Economic Growth and TSU meetings, the Youth Employment ‘strategy advisory board’ meeting, and presentations to internal stakeholder groups such as Country Directors
  • Support the Director of Youth Employment to adapt existing MSD4E ‘Fast Class’ materials to improve (based on feedback) and make it suitable for an external audience. Plan the dissemination and promote the ‘Fast Class’ to internal and external communication channels.
  • Implementation
  • Provide ad-hoc technical assistance to projects in response to requests from programme teams, and when prioritized by the Africa TSU Technical Director and/or the Director of Youth Employment (Global TSU) to enable the projects to apply best practice MSD methodologies, adapted to employment programming
  • (If working directly on implementation strategies with Zimbabwe, Liberia, Ethiopia, and/or other programme teams), ensure that lessons, experiences, and tools from projects are captured and fed back into Mercy Corps’ Global Strategy and tools
  • Strategy
  • Update the Mercy Corps Youth Employment World of Work approach document and capacity statement, to align with the current strategy and technical guidance, our green jobs approach, the Resilient Youth through Systems Engagement approach. 
  • Coordination and management
  • Attend team meetings and have regular check-ins with the Director of Youth Employment as available
  • Attend Regional TSU meetings for the Africa Region and communicate regularly with the Technical Director for Africa as available
  • Work with the incoming MSD4E Senior Advisor to ensure a seamless handover in the last two weeks of February

Consultant Deliverables:

The consultant will be expected to provide a detailed report at the end of every month outlining the execution of the duties outlined in the scope of work above. Specifically, the report will include the following:

  • Working with country teams and fundraising teams to provide business development support including development of proposals, concept notes, brainstorm meetings, etc., especially for the Africa Region.
  • Learning and ecosystem building, and capacity development efforts led/supported with the objective of extending the agency’s influence across the region
  • Development of content in advancement of Mercy Corps youth employment influence and thought leadership
  • Capacity development/ training initiatives which have been delivered to Mercy Corps’ internal teams
  • Outline of program support activities conducted during the reporting period – indicating nature of support, number of days dedicated and outputs
  • Other deliverables tailored to individual country specific needs and regional priorities will be agreed on an ongoing basis with the TSU Youth Employment Director and Africa Senior Technical Director.
  • The consultant shall complete the duties described in the Scope of Work section below from mid-November 2023 to 1st March 2024. The deliverables for every month will fall due on the 5th day of the following month.

The Consultant will report to:

The global TSU Director for Youth Employment

The Consultant will work closely with:

Africa Regional TSU, Regional Directors, Deputy Regional Directors, Country Directors and Directors of Programs, Program Directors/Managers implementing MSD for youth employment-focused or multi-sector programs, Regional and Global Technical Support Unit, Jobtech Community of Practice, Research and Learning team, MEL team.

Required Experience & Skills:

  • 5+ years of experience of increasingly proficient management and/or technical support in MSD programming, with at least one job experience in a well-reputed MSD project.
  • Strong technical expertise in MSD; technical expertise in MSD4E (Market Systems Development for Employment) is preferred
  • Experience providing implementation support to MSD for employment programs is strongly preferred.
  • Proven experience assessing markets and working with private sector partners
  • Experience working across different geographies, including Africa, and more specifically in fragile environments.
  • Strong ability to understand, manage and communicate effectively with multiple stakeholders and complex relationships at multiple levels of the organization.
  • Experience of capturing learning for learning briefs, case studies, or research outputs
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites, including traveling to insecure environments, is preferred, but not required
  • A proven proactive approach to work and self-driven leadership.
  • Fluency in English is required, with strong written and oral communication skills.