Youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa: Taking stock of the evidence and knowledge gaps
This scoping paper (PDF) is one of a series jointly commissioned by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the MasterCard Foundation. The paper provides an overview of the youth employment challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. It gives context on the overall economic and employment climate in the region, and takes stock of what is known — and not known — about youth employment specifically. It summarizes existing interventions to expand employment and livelihood opportunities for African youth, and identifies research that could address policy-relevant knowledge gaps. The paper highlights that most young Africans work in agriculture and much of the region’s poverty is concentrated in this sector. With the majority of youth work in farming, meaningful improvements in their livelihoods will require a focus on productivity and innovation in agriculture. An important policy recommendation is that low levels of educational achievement and skills gaps limit the employment prospects for many young people. So, in addition to job experience, various types of skills development programs, from second-chance education to technical training, are important. Furthermore, the authors stress that context matter: the nature of employment challenges differs across the region, which means that policy priorities must vary as well. This paper highlights priority areas for further research, including a better understanding of school-to-work transition and youth employment dynamics.