Recipes against Youth Unemployment

Hanging around, alcohol abuse, criminal action: symptomatic situations for a disillusioned youth unable to find a job. Youth unemployment is rising while enrollment in secondary education is decreasing. Possible solutions and different inputs from several angles were discussed at a recent workshop in Côte d’ Ivoire and are summarized here.

Over the past few years the Jacobs Foundation has sought solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and has set-up programs in Latin America and Africa for labor market youth inclusion. To share the experiences from these different programs the Jacobs Foundation has organized a two-day workshop on lessons learned in order to identify key elements for successful implementation and stronger positive impact across countries and regions. 60-70 participants from the private sector, social organizations, governments, and foundations joined the workshop on labor market youth inclusion from 27-28 October in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Trends on the youth labor market

The analysis of the trends and opportunities on the youth labor market shows that youth unemployment is again on the rise. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that globally 71 million people aged 15-24 will be looking for – or are unable to find – employment in 2016 and 2017. Let alone in developing countries youth unemployment will affect 7,9 million youth in 2017: Watch the video here.

The importance of secondary education

The necessary skills for employment are, according to research by R4D (Results for Development), cognitive, non-cognitive and technical. Scientific evidence indicates that cognitive skills are directly related to economic growth and can be acquired through secondary education. However, secondary education enrollment needs to double or triple to equip the global labor force of 3.5 billion by 2030. While many countries in Africa and Asia have raised secondary education as a priority, the explicit link between secondary education and skills for employment is still absent in many national education systems. To tackle the problem, opportunities for enrollment in secondary education need to be increased and the curricula adapted allowing youth to further develop their cognitive skills. Read the full report here.

Early childhood and its influence on labor market youth inclusion

A topic that was also discussed at the workshop was the formation of early basic and socioemotional skills and their role in successful labor market inclusion of youth. It is widely recognized that the early years are crucial for later success in life as the experiences made in the first few years determine the architecture of the brain. This means that the foundation for many skills needed for 21st century jobs is established in the early years, which also has implications on educational methods. Read the blogpost on educating the 21st century child here.

Valuing and professionalizing of the agricultural sector

It is crucial that opportunities to develop and enhance skills are provided to youth in order to help them access entrepreneurship opportunities and acquire jobs. According to the World Bank higher value needs to be placed on the agricultural sector along with initiatives to professionalize it in order to create employment opportunities. In a recent brief, the World Bank writes: “globally, about 40 million enterprises— from very small to medium-sized—are now involved in agribusiness. Non-farm jobs in rural areas and small towns have expanded to offer new opportunities for rural youth.” Youth engagement is an important pillar in professionalizing and valuing the agricultural sector. Focus should also be put on social enterprises, incubation for youth entrepreneurs and the use of ICT to create digital jobs that serve agricultural services. Read the full brief here.