The ripple effect: how one skilled person can change a nation’s future

It started as a simple goal; help a woman in Ghana to finish medical school. After all, Sheila was already a third of the way there but couldn’t afford it after her father passed away.

She was a dedicated student, and knew that a qualification was her family’s ticket out of poverty. She could also help her community, as parts of northern Ghana only have 1 doctor for 35,000 patients – one of the highest ratios in the world. So the charity Afrikids stepped in, and Sheila is now fully qualified.


Cycle of influence

That’s a great success story on its own. But the influence of her training doesn’t stop there.

The economy will benefit because a qualified midwife has six times the earning potential and that income will prepare a new generation of midwives. Sheila received a loan from Afrikids to finish school, and when she pays it back, the funds will go to a new trainee.

The government in Ghana was so impressed with Afrikids’ approach, they even changed their own funding policy. It shows that skills have a far greater impact than just the person being trained.


Investing in skills for good

Afrikids is one of the nine organisations that the City & Guilds Group supports through our Skills Development Fund. It’s a £5m investment in projects that transform lives through skills.

We use the fund to help people, organisations and economies to develop their skills for growth, including women like Sheila. In fact, she was one of 46 women in Ghana whose loans we funded through Afrikids.

It’s obvious from stories like hers that skills investment does make a difference. But we wanted a framework that captured the value on paper. That way, other charitable organisations could use it as a meaningful way to measure their own impact. So we teamed up with researchers at Cranfield University to create one.


Measuring investment in skills

The framework showed that in two years of the fund, we’ve directly helped 4500 people. This includes people like Asma, a Syrian refugee who was able to start her own cooking company after receiving business guidance and a fridge. Additionally, we’ve helped 18,000 people indirectly – evidence of the ripple effect.

We also found out that recipients of the fund came away with more than just employable qualifications. They developed skills like confidence and emotional resilience.


Sharing the lessons

Each of the charities we support through the fund are different, but there are common learnings. We share them in our full report so that they can help other organisations who do charitable skills development.

One of the key lessons is that people need more than just training; they need mentoring. St Giles Trust showed this in helping offenders to qualify as peer advisors. Once qualified, those advisors help fellow offenders in areas like resettling into society.

It’s an investment that truly pays dividends. We invested £100k in the programme to train 30 peer advisors, with an estimated public value of £6.5m over three years. All of the evidence shows that skills training is an outstanding return on investment.

These findings come from our report, “Skills Development Fund: Measuring the impact of the Skills Development Fund after two years.” It was produced by Cranfield University in association with the City & Guilds Group.

Read the full report >

Learn more about the Skills Development Fund >