Africans Urged to Improve Jobs for Youth in Continent

Addis Ababa, Africa should improve the quality of basic education to ensure a skilled workforce that will create more and better jobs to drive economic transformation on the continent.

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) acting Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy division (GPSPD), Sweta Saxena, said creating suitable jobs for its youth is one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers in Africa.

She also highlighted that growing young and working-age population requires jobs if Africa is to benefit from a demographic dividend and meet its development aspirations.

Speaking at the Opening Session of the Expert Group Meeting of the Social Policy Section, organized by GPSPD, Saxena said Africa is challenged in terms of providing jobs for the youth. She cited the lack of adequate skills by the young population in Africa.

Data shows that nearly a quarter of the children enrolled at the primary level do not complete primary education while less than 50 percent of young boys and girls complete lower secondary education, compared to around 80 percent in South Asia and Latin American countries. Worse still the tertiary level enrollment rate is less than 10 percent.

“The quality of education is also very low, and so as a result, young people in Africa enter the formal labour market with few employable skills,” Saxena said, commenting that it was no wonder that nearly 90 percent of the youth start their working life in informal employment and almost a quarter of businesses name lack of skilled workers as among the main constraints.

Another big challenge for Africa was having significant numbers of their trained people ending up unemployed and working in areas unrelated to their training or emigrating to other countries, which is a misallocation and waste of resources that these countries can ill afford.

The two-day Expert Group Meeting has drawn technical experts from 16 countries including experts from government, academia, think tanks, and the United Nations system to review the key findings of the draft report, Jobs in Africa or Jobs for Africans.

The report aims to inform and stimulate debate, contribute to better policies, facilitate further research, and identify prominent knowledge and data gaps.

The meeting provides an opportunity to discuss questions related to the issues of demography, education and skills migration in an integrated way so as to accelerate national and regional-level actions for increasing employment opportunities for young Africans.

Saxena said expert group meetings were important for the ECA as they contributed to the Commission fulfilling its core mandate of promoting economic and social development among our member States.

In a globalized world with ease of movement of capital, goods and services, the mobility of skilled workers across international borders was a natural consequence of global integration and orderly migration, according to ECA.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency