By Dr. Paul Boadu
The generation of quality jobs as part of regional and national economic growth and development process is central to ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth. As part of efforts to support job creation for the ever-increasing youth population, many countries in the Sub-Saharan regions of Africa have implemented youth employment programmes over the past years. In the year 2020, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), together with its country partners in Ghana, Benin, Malawi and Ethiopia, used mixed methods research designs to assess the effectiveness of youth employment initiatives that have been implemented over the last two decades in creating sustainable jobs. The research identified a total of 47 major initiatives (comprising 20 youth-centered and 27 general initiatives). Figure 1 shows the distribution of the 47 initiatives based on International Labour Organization’s classifications.
 (i) Employment services – such as providing information on labour market, counselling, job search services and placement;
(ii) Skill development training programmes -including those that provide adult literacy training, off and on the job training and financial incentives for training;
(iii) Employment creation programmes – including those that offer wage subsidies, public work employment of short duration, self- employment programmes and entrepreneurship development activities; and
(iv) Integrated programme – that involves a mixture of the other interventions.
The research identified key success factors concerning the design, implementation structure, partnership, coverage and financing mechanisms that are worth considering in the design of future youth employment initiatives. They included:
- promotion of skill development youth employment programmes that factor youth development challenges in the design of the initiatives by addressing youth specific issues such as provision of tailored training and capacity building, as well as access to resources (for example land, technologies, startup capital and opportunities to acquire work experience); and
- integration of value chain approach in developing agricultural-based youth employment initiatives.
The research findings further showed that factors such as age, interest in agricultural related enterprises, trade and commerce, and artisanal enterprises influenced participation in the youth employment programmes. Also, factors such as proximity of youth training centers, jobs in agricultural value chains, and trade and commerce led to the creation of sustainable occupations for the participants who engaged in them.
Youth employment initiatives that take the above-mentioned factors into consideration in their design have huge potentials for job creation. However, the jobs created will have better chances of sustainability if they are implemented together with these five propositions:
- Design of monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure continuous assessment of progress, lesson leaning and adjustments when needed. This will also provide data to inform decisions.
- Development of guidance and counseling systems to support the youth in making informed career choices and decisions.
- Establishment of a coherent coordination mechanism among implementing partners.
- Integration of holistic capacity building facilities, particularly in rural areas.
- Creation of innovative funding mechanisms to support sustainable implementation of youth employment initiatives.
The research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented as part of the Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI). The PARI project is coordinated at the global level by the Center for Development Studies (ZEF), University of Bonn in Germany, and coordinated in Africa by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), but the views expressed are those of the authors.
For further reading relating to the research see:
Boadu P. and Fatunbi A.O. (2020). Characterization of Youth Employment Initiatives in selected African Countries: A synthesis Report. FARA Research Report 5(16): Pp 47. https://library.faraafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/FRR-Vol-5-No-16-2020-Youth-Employment-Initiatives-in-Africa-A-synthesis-Report.pdf
For further reading on country specific component of the research see:
Adegbola YP, Crinot GF, Dassou SS, Atacolodjou AL, Kouton- Bognon B, Adegbola MC-P, P Boadu, and Fatunbi A.O (2020). A Review of Youth Employment Initiatives in Benin: Policy Perspectives. FARA Research Report 5(2): Pp 34. https://library.faraafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FRR-Vol-5-No-2-2020-1.pdf
Adegbola YP, Crinot GF, Dassou SS, Atacolodjou AL, Kouton-Bognon B, Adegbola MC-P, Boadu P, Fatunbi A.O (2020). Enhancing youth employment opportunities in rural economies in Benin. FARA Research Report 5(1): Pp 47. https://library.faraafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FRR-Vol-5-No-1-2020-1.pdf
Ampadu-Ameyaw R, Jumpah ET and Owusu-Arthur J, Boadu P and Fatunbi O. A (2020). A review of youth employment initiatives in Ghana: policy perspective. FARA Research Report 5 (5): PP41. https://library.faraafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FRR-Vol-5-No-5-2020.pdf
Ampadu-Ameyaw R, Jumpah ET and Owusu-Arthur J, Boadu P and Mahama A (2020). Enhancing youth employment opportunities in rural economies of Ghana. FARA Research Report 5 (9): PP 38. https://research4agrinnovation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/enhancing-youth-employment-opportunities-in-rural-economies-of-ghana-download.pdf
Gondwe S., Kasiya S., Maulidi F., Munthali G.T., (2020). Assessment of Youth Employment Initiatives in Malawi: Implementation Realities and Policy Perspective. FARA Research Report 5 (6): Pp32. https://research4agrinnovation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/assessment-of-youth-employment-initiatives-in-malawi-implementation-realities-and-policy-download.pdf
Tigabu D. G and Gebeyehu M. F, (2020). Enhancement of Employment and Income Opportunities for Rural Youth in Ethiopia: A Review of Four Large Youth Employment Initiatives. FARA Research Report 5(4): PP 35. https://psi.gov.et/index.php/other-publications-4?download=118:enhancement-of-employment-and-income-opportunities-for-rural-youth-in-ethiopia-a-review-of-four-large-youth-employment-initiatives
Tigabu D. G and Gebeyehu M.F., (2020). Enhancing youth employment opportunities in rural economies in Ethiopia. FARA Research Report 5(3) PP 39. https://psi.gov.et/index.php/other-publications-4?download=120:enhancing-youth-employment-opportunities-in-rural-economies-in-ethiopia
For other related policy documents see:
International Labour Organization (2013). Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013: A generation at risk / International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2013. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_212423.pdf
International Labour Organization (2019). World Employment and Social Outlook. Trends 2019.International Labour Office-Geneva: ILO, 2019. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_670554.pdf
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of FARA or its members