According to the 2017 Report of the UN Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", in 2016, the global youth unemployment rate was 12.8%. In some regions it can reach 60% or higher. The International Labour Organisation estimates that the working poverty rate among youth in Sub-Saharan Africa was nearly 70% in 2016. This means that 64.4 million working youth in that region live in extreme or moderate poverty, on less than $3.10 a day. Furthermore, young women are more likely to be unemployed than young men.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, with target 8.6 specifically aiming to reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training by 2020.
Not using the capabilities of young people hampers economic growth and can lead to social instability, driving young people to migrate. Meaningful employment for young people is essential to achieve sustainable economic development; however, in many regions, youth often lack relevant market skills and are not provided with real opportunities.
To tackle the problem, a sole focus on training youth is not enough. Connecting young people to markets with growth potential and concrete opportunities and taking into account the private sector’s needs and expectations are vital steps in ensuring the long-term viability of employment programmes.
The question is not only: are we able to identify sectors that are attractive and lucrative for young people? The energy and drive for innovation that many youth have should not be underestimated. We have to think about equipping young people with the skills and competencies needed to turn sectors like horticulture, poultry and biogas into vibrant markets. What’s more, let’s not forget that in the end, employment programmes need to add value to companies’ revenues.
Only by addressing all these points, can we ensure that young people are linked to realistic and sustainable employment opportunities.
At SNV, our Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) approach looks at all these aspects, tackling the youth unemployment issue in a comprehensive and sustainable way. We do so by:
- Providing disadvantaged youth in rural areas with life skills and relevant technical training (push factor);
- Linking youth to market opportunities for employment and enterprise development (match factor);
- Selecting opportunities in growth sectors that have concrete potential for employment creation (pull factor).
The model is based on decades of experience in value chain and inclusive market development for the agriculture, energy and sanitation sectors. In addition, we build on partnerships with private sector companies, (local) government institutions, financial service providers, and trainers and coaches from public and private sectors.
So far, after four years of implementation, we have enrolled 21,352 young people in our training programmes, 852 more than the project goal. Over 20,000 have successfully completed the training programmes, greatly exceeding the initial target of 17,500; and more than 650 youth-led enterprises have been started, 250 more than the programme’s objective. 12,500+ young people have entered employment, which puts us well on our way to achieving the project’s initial goal of 16,950.
In 2015, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) approached SNV to expand the existing OYE project to a new geographical zone in Tanzania, the Central Corridor. A key component of the integrated programme is strengthening youth's leadership skills. We aim to reach an additional 6,100 young people in the agriculture sector and 4,000 young people in the energy sector.
Other youth employment projects are being implemented in Mali, Uganda, Niger, Ethiopia at large and Addis Ababa more specifically, North Benin, the Kilimanjaro region of North-East Tanzania and in the Beira Corridor of central rural Mozambique.
On a higher level, our vision for OYE is to contribute to an ecosystem that is youth inclusive; empower young people to improve their own livelihoods and become leaders in their communities; and drive climate-smart innovations in rural economies. All of this will not only contribute to SDG 8 but will also have a positive impact on climate (SDG 13), gender equality (SDG 5), food and nutrition security (SDG2), WASH and energy access (SDG 6 and 7) and on poverty reduction in general (SDG 1). Will you join us in this ambitious albeit crucial journey?
Click on the images below to read the inspiring stories of some of the youth who have been impacted by our projects and join the #YouthDay conversations on Twitter.
Written by Laura Tufis, SNV Global Marketing & Communications Advisor.