African Youth

 

Somali Youth

Introduction

Youth is indispensable decisive factor for lifting up nations and societies if they get the chance for education and skills necessary through empowerment schemes which is based on their requirements. On the other hand, because of negligence and the charm offensive by the criminal groups they could be a very powerful agent in severe destruction. No need to count the number of youth casualties in every corner of the globe especially in Africa not only as victims but also as perpetrators, because of the simple reason that younger generations are very susceptible to be an active member in drug dealers, extremist cells, or ethnic or clan-based violence. In countries like Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Angola the youth where been manipulated and engaged in bitter and deadly civil wars and ethnic cleansing operations due to multiple proposes and beyond their will and interest. Recently younger generations played a pivotal role in the events in the Arab Spring, a wave of youth anger started from the northern African country Tunisia and spread all the way to Egypt, Libya, Morocco and other countries in the Middle East.

There is no agreed definition on the term youth, the United Nations defines youth as individuals aged between 15 to 24 years. While the African Union defines youth as individuals aged between 15 to 35 years. Neither the definition of the United Nations nor the ones of the African Union contradict the gloomy reality that nearly 60% of African population is under the age of 25 years old. This is a striking figure considering the opportunities scarcity in the continent where the International Libor Organization (ILO) forecasted that Africa’s youth unemployment rate will exceed 30% in 2019. Certainly, due to convergence of several factors the economic inter-immigration and the immigration towards Europe will increase sharply in the next decades unless urgent investment is made to reduce the unemployment especially for those in the rural areas where the majority of them are living.

Youth are Africa’s most valuable asset. Unlike the other countries of the world specially the western developed countries where the aged people are overrunning, the African youth is expected to reach up to nearly one billion by 2050. If these young generations efficiently harnessed, they could be an active in stronger and more inclusive economic growth across the continent. Unfortunately, the majority of youth across Africa has not the same opportunities that their colleagues are enjoying in other parts of the globe. According the African Development Bank, Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third of them are unemployed and discouraged, another third is vulnerably employed, and only one in six is working in the formal sector. These underemployed young workers are in the trap of exploitation, where they don’t have job security, minimal benefits, very low pay, and often face hazardous working conditions.  So, the challenge is to create better jobs, as well as more jobs.

Trap of Unemployment and Underemployment

Youth employment is very essential for creating strong community, the domino effect of youth employment on countries and local communities is a tremendous. Definitely, the great number of youth unemployment and underemployment have social ramifications. Some young men and women with few job opportunities and little hope of future advancement may consider criminal activities and joining armed conflicts as the only way towards salvation. Hence unemployed and underemployed youth are more exposed to be flamed in conflicts and many of them fall as easy prey to armed and rebel groups. Migration waves put a further pressure on urban areas with its already very little opportunities. Young generations represent the majority of the people who immigrates from the rural to the urban areas in Africa, this will create social unrest as the urban communities feel anxiety. As several studies shows the rural youth migrate to urban areas to find better educational and work opportunities and a way out of poverty.

The bad governance and lack of political will are behind the high rate of unemployment and underemployment phenomena in Africa. Tackling the youth unemployment and underemployment requires a political will and comprehensive framework which makes every African country to benefit from the globalization not only in manufacturing but also enhancing the agriculture, fishing and livestock. African countries should provide efficient public goods and encourage formal firms by loosening the current rigid regulations, this will attract the foreign investment and prevent the emergence of informal sector firms, by default the employment dilemma will be gradually solved. Steps towards good governance will push Africa forward and will convey to the continent the global workforce experience and knowledge, also impulses the continent towards the global competition and more than good governance will defuse the triggering social instability.

Education Weakness and Mismatch

Clearly  the  educational  provisions  within  any  given  country  represent  one  of  the  main

determinants  of  the  composition  and  growth  of  that  country’s  output  and  exports  and

constitute  an  important  ingredient  in  a  system’s  capacity  to  borrow  foreign  technology

effectively.

Suffice to say that education is very essential for any community or nation to evolve and achieve its aspirations. Education provision plays a crucial role in the development of the countries by making ordinary citizens engaged with uplifting their communities from disfranchisements and hardships, it’s the only mean to solidify solidarity and peace. Education can transform lives, generate prosperity and promote social inclusion. It is vital for technological capability and bringing technical changes for every industry in the economy. According to several studies, the existence of significance correlation between skills and the economic booming is cluster clear. Access to formal education is empirically linked to a range of positive outcomes, from improved health to greater financial access and macroeconomic growth. Notably, the Millennium Development Goals spurred development actors to improve quality of and access to education.

Clearly  the  educational  provisions  within  any  given  country  represent  one  of  the  main

determinants  of  the  composition  and  growth  of  that  country’s  output  and  exports  and

constitute  an  important  ingredient  in  a  system’s  capacity  to  borrow  foreign  technology

effectively.

Clearly  the  educational  provisions  within  any  given  country  represent  one  of  the  main

determinants  of  the  composition  and  growth  of  that  country’s  output  and  exports  and

constitute  an  important  ingredient  in  a  system’s  capacity  to  borrow  foreign  technology

effectively.

Clearly  the  educational  provisions  within  any  given  country  represent  one  of  the  main

determinants  of  the  composition  and  growth  of  that  country’s  output  and  exports  and

constitute  an  important  ingredient  in  a  system’s  capacity  to  borrow  foreign  technology

effectively.

 

The gains in improving access to education in the continent in the last decade have been impressive, but the main challenge is now to improve the quality of education. Despite the education in Africa is expanded in quantity more than any time before and the current generation is educated better compared to the previous generation but still the distance is very long to fill the gap. According to the World Bank around 89 million youth, ages 12-24 years, are out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the next decade, an estimated 40 million more youth will drop out and face an uncertain future without adequate work and life skills. Problems with quality remains as some education systems deliver low-quality learning and conveys the wrong skills.

Competencies and skills related to the marketplace are needed to be strengthened for further youth engagement with the market. Vocational training should be upgraded to fill the gap resulted by the skill mismatch existing in the workplace. A well-designed vocational education and training will contribute in tackling the high rate of youth unemployment also will end the need to hire expatriate technicians in some very important productive sectors. It’s the responsibility of the African states and other stakeholders in the education sector to discover solutions for the educations low-quality drawbacks in Africa as the goal of education is to develop experience, skills and mindsets that allow people to succeed in work and in life.

Demographic Significance of the Youth

The demographic significance of the youth throughout the worldwide made the youth issue at the center of the developmental discussions. What seems to be a response that reality, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted In December 2015, the historic Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, underlining the importance of young people as a partner in resolving and preventing conflict at all levels. The Resolution urged Member States to increase representation of youth in decision-making and consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to meaningfully participate in peace processes and dispute resolution.

Also, in July 2006 the African Union heads of states approved the African Youth Charter (AYC). The charter is a framework and legal document that gives instruction for the African youth empowerment in the continental, regional and national levels. More than that, the years of 2009-2018 are assigned to be the decade of African youth development.  Meanwhile under the youth charter, regional youth networks have been established like the Pan African Youth, these networks aimed to boost the youth engagement in the continental, regional and national developments and also to be a channel for conveying the youth’s perspective in order to include it to the policies and strategies of the continent. Although the majority of the African nations signed and ratified the African Youth Charter but its impact is not tangible on the real live whether its engaging the youth in decision making or tackling the issue of the unemployment, which rises doubts on the sincerity of the African leaders and the effectiveness of the African union in terms of setting up the strategies and policies and the assuring its implementation by the member states.

Despite the challenges of demographics but in the flipside the large youth population is an opportunity. The demographic transition and shifts from rural to urban areas make the youth a plentiful asset that continent could claim and could make it as a window of opportunity. In order to address the African youth dilemma a multisectoral approach by African governments and agencies interested is necessary. Expanding the access to the formal education and the vocational schools especially in rural area is very crucial; creating a support invronment which harnesses the young people’s capabilities and promotes enterproneurship and innovation.

African goverments and other ogranizations concerned the youth issue should increase youth engagement in governance and leadership in all levels and sorts. Youth are capable of handling critical issues; to enrich their capacity there should be an inter-generational dialogue with a view to ensuring that young people take over leadership of the African countries. Empowering the youth will help the solidification of new culture and perceptions in Africa featured by regional solidarity, also will contribute in easing ethnic, religion and race contentions.

 In accordance with the efforts of African Union in motivating the free movements among the African people, the African governments and its affiliated immigration agencies should ease the cross-border activities. African governments must ensure the unleashing of youth development potentials through creating greater economic opportunities, incentives, and rewarding youth innovation and creativity in the economic sector.

The Role of The Private Sector

The private sector is very significance in the process of young generations involvement with the labor markets as long as the private sector has the expertise, resource and capacity to create wealth needed for employment opportunities. The privates sector provides the majority of employment in the developing countries. Governments should seek cooperation with the private sector to provide high quality technical education at both secondary and tertiary levels.  Although the impulse of the private sector is to generate profit, but they can also intervene in a number of areas to contribute towards promoting youth employment. The private sector can facilitate school-to-work transition, supporting programs of technical and vocational and on-the-job trainings.

Conclusion

African governments need to ensure the expansion of the social and economic infrastructure necessary for coping with the rise in youth population in Africa, this should include quality, affordable and skills-based education, health care services, recreation facilities and promoting labor market information. Labor market information is a key factor for better youth employment programs. The coverage of labor force surveys and evaluations of labor market programs in Africa is very low compared to other regions. As a result, policymakers and program designers have little evidence to go on and many programs show few results. 

One of the major problems in the youth and labor market relations is the absence of reliable sufficient information, hence the young people don’t have the enough grasp about the labor market, so they don’t know what jobs to pursue. Governments and development partners should focus on filling information gap in the labor market and transmit this information to the youth and institutions concerned empowering the young people.

One remarkable reality is that, Despite the democratic backsliding across the globe and registering overall decline in Africa, democracy is gaining strong support in the African communities which youth represents the majority, they see democracy  as the best tool through which they could live together and reach a decent live, there is a resistance more than ever before against term extensions, corruption and violations against the human rights. This perspective is augmented by some studies which revealed that nearly 70% of Africans prefer to live in open and free societies.