Admission to the program was based on a calculated score for each applicant and coupled with a course-specific threshold score. For each course, applicants with scores above the threshold were assigned to the training program, whereas applicants whose scores fell below the threshold were not assigned to the program. To form a sufficiently large quasi-experimental control group, training providers were advised to shortlist at least 50 percent more candidates than the number of spaces available in the training event. The assignment procedure followed streamlined guidelines, including a detailed scoring rubric, instructions for ranking the shortlisted candidates by score, and selecting the top-scoring candidates for admission to the program.
The individual score used in ranking candidates consisted of five sub-scores based on: (a) applicants’ trade-specific education (prerequisite, 15 points) , (b) applicants’ economic status (up to 20 points), (c) applicants’ social caste, gender, and special circumstances (up to 25 points), (d) development status of applicants’ district of origin (up to 10 points), and (e) a score determined by a selection committee during an interview procedure (up to 30 points). Sub-scores for the first four components were determined based on the information each applicant provided in his or her application form. The application form lists the exact questions upon which the distribution of scores was based. Based on the aggregated four-component score, candidates were short-listed and invited for an interview. The fifth sub-score was determined based on an interview with a three- to five-member committee comprised of representatives from the training institution and potential employers. Moreover, representatives of the survey firm and/or the donor institutions (e.g., EF, World Bank, etc.) were usually present to observe the procedure. The selection committee jointly decided on the fifth sub-score by assessing the candidate’s commitment, motivation, attitude, aptitude, and clear vision for employment and enterprising. Eventually, the selection procedure yielded a total score for each individual by summing across the five components. Possible total scores ranged from 0 to 100.