Promoting youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jul 9, 2010

(Photo: UNDP)
Since 2009 the UNDP Regional Programme for Social Cohesion and Youth Employment, a partnership that is bringing  together the, UNDP,  ILO, UNESCO and UNIDO, has been supporting 12 Sub-Saharan countries to design macro-economic policies that promote youth employment and facilitate the development of skills among the younger generations.

The current economic crisis has hit young people hard. According to the ILO, of the world's estimated 211 million unemployed people in 2009, nearly 40 per cent—or about 83 million—are between 15 and 24 years of age. In Africa, youth already accounted for 60% of the unemployed workforce in 2005 (to be actualized/see report ILO 2010), with women even less likely than men to have jobs. In the years leading up to 2015, Africa’s youth population is expected to increase by 36 million while the labor force is expected to grow by 22 million, reaching a total of 135 million. Youth employment will remain both an economic and a security issue for Africa, with the lack of decent livelihood opportunities as one of the driving forces behind violence or organized crime.

The programme has been supporting countries to compile better labor and employment data; to design policies that can foster employment and business creation; to support  education,vocational training and  sustainable enterprises creation  and to establish a platform for  social dialogue with labor unions, employers and youth organizations to promote social cohesion.

On the ground, programme staff have been working with governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, private sector and youth organizations to promote  youth employment as a priority in national and regional strategies to directly contribute to increase national growth.

By specifically targeting youth employment, the programme aims to promote security and inclusion in countries often recovering from violent conflict or marked by strong emigration flows. The programme, through its unique regional approach, not only aims to facilitate country-to-country comparisons but it also aims to tackle violence, conflict and migration as issues rooted in socio-economic exclusion and which transcend borders.

Thus, in addition to working with national policy-makers, the programme has been collaborating with regional institutions, including the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission and the Economic Community of West Africa States to mainstream youth employment in regional development and integration strategies.

The USD 17 million programme, funded by the Spain Cooperation has been operating in Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

 Thanks to the programme’s awareness raising efforts with the government of Senegal for instance, the country has mainstreamed youth employment and professional training in its National Employment Policy for 2010-2015.

In Liberia, the programme has been converting a building that was destroyed during the war into a training compound for agro-business development. The compound included a dormitory, a school, an administrative building, staff quarters and a power unit. It will soon be able to house 150 newly recruited trainers.

In Cape Verde, 292 youths will be trained in information technology and broadcasting, using three ILO methodologies: TRIE (“Trouver votre idée d’entreprise” – Find your Business Idea), CREE (Créer votre entreprise – “Create your Own Business”) and GERME (Gérer mieux votre entreprise – “Better Manage your buisiness”).

In Guinea, thanks to the programme, six micro-finance institutions are now funding 500 youth entrepreneurial projects. In Guinea Bissau, a partnership has been established with the West African Bank to manage a credit line of USD 300 000 to be allocated for youth entrepreneurship projects, with an additional credit line of USD 395,000 under negotiation.

In January 2010, in an interesting cross-border initiative, Liberian volunteers were deployed to six neighboring counties to provide direct support to education, health and agricultural institutions within various communities. The volunteers received grants and monthly volunteer living allowances to settle in the host county and were provided with necessary materials to effectively execute their assigned duties.

For more information:

On 15 July, on the occasion of UNDP’s Annual Meeting in Africa, which will examine ways to promote a breakthrough development strategy for the region, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Director of ILO’s Employment Sector, will participate in an expert panel on job creation, employment and income growth in Africa.

For more information, please contact, Programme Coordinator, UNDP Dakar Regional Centre.

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