Africa’s youth employment challenge: New perspectives
This issue of the IDS Bulletin reflects on challenges to youth employment in Africa and demonstrates how political context shapes youth-related policy. It illustrates the need for critical reflection on the multiple and divergent meanings of work and highlights an urgent need to rethink interventions that promote entrepreneurship. One article (PDF) discusses how social norms and micropolitics enable or constrain participation of particular groups of young people in smallholder livestock production and marketing. This analysis indicates a disconnect between Kenya’s youth policy which advocates for equitable distribution of employment opportunities, and the reality at community level. Interventions should therefore adopt strategies that recognise these norms as a first step to addressing social exclusion. Next, the potential of the rural non-farm economy to generate a significant number of jobs for young people is critically reflected (PDF). Evidence from Ghana shows that currently these enterprises have little potential for growth or employment creation. In order to harness their full potential, it is imperative for policymakers to identify specific sub-sectors that lend themselves to growth and have the capacity to offer sustainable employment avenues. Additionally, the links between young people, migration and work with a particular focus on migrants’ social networks are discussed (PDF). The author concludes that provision of financial support for rural young people to further their education, enforcement of laws within the informal sector and support for migrants’ networks would help improve the situation.