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An excerpt of the report of a recent two day dialogue on youth employment in West Africa

Aug 16, 2012, 10:25 AM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

A two-day sub-regional youth dialogue on youth employment in West Africa held in Accra, Ghana ended with renewed call for greater youth empowerment and employment.

Bellow, we reproduce an excerpt of the outcome of the meeting organised by Foundation for Future Leaders International in partnership with UNECA, held from 24 to 25 July 2012 at M Plaza Hotel.


Though discussants recognised the role of the private sector in supporting the implementation of policies and frameworks and protocols concerning youth and employment in the informal sector, they argued that this all important role is bedevilled by seeming challenges. These challenges which cut across various sectors and disciplines of the economy have prevented the private sector from contributing meaningfully to youth employment. The challenges with likely solutions are presented as follows:

7. 1. Curriculum and Employability

           Although most countries within the sub-region are witnessing a significant growth in the delivery of education with the major actors being the private sector, yet such education is based on very weak foundations. Courses designed and rolled out are not based on the needs of industry.

In order to address these challenges, best practices from countries within the sub-region can be replicated in other countries as a form of checks.

           Re-enforcing the training components in the curriculum of students to make them more useful to their environment and providing adequate support to private universities.

           Emphasizing specialization of courses in training institutions instead of generalizing which only leads to unemployment as well as a demotivation to going to school.

           Appling cultural assets to promote youth employment in the informal sector.

           Adoption of policies that would compel private and public establishments to overcome occupational entry requirements of several numbers of years’ experience that impede the progression of the youth to enter into the job market.

           Developing internship schemes for youth.

           Enhance technical and vocational educational training.

           Incorporate entrepreneurial education at the basic school level

7.2. Youth Empowerment

           Introduce and strengthen youth mentoring programmes.

           Strengthen guidance and counseling services for in and out of school youth.

           Encouraging dialogue between the youth and citizens in the diaspora to serve as a tool for the encouragement of the youth and the sharing of innovative and creative ideas that would change their destinies.

           To ensure full participation of the youth in the formulation and implementation of all programmes at the initial stages of their designing.

           Recognizing and honouring enterprising youth.  

7.3. Funding Mechanisms

           A consideration of tax exemptions and other tax incentives to establishments that provide opportunity for youth employment.

           Review of collateral requirements and making credit facilities available to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

           Setting up a sustainable fund for youth employment programmes at the national level with the private sector as key partners.

           Create synergies to provide start-up capital where young businesses could be incubated for a certain period so that they could be established and strengthened better.

7.4. Attitudinal and Value Change

           A re-orientation of the attitude of the youth as well as their families towards employment in the informal sector.

           African youth must have a paradigm shift from producing in quantity to producing quality goods in order to gain access to bigger markets.

           Encourage the spirit of volunteerism among the youth to serve as a training ground and improve youth employability.

           The promotion and adoption of technological solutions to entrepreneurial development.

7.5. Private Sector Participation

           Provide training and expertise to enhance the skills of the youth in entrepreneurial development. 

           Enhance Social Responsibility towards the attainment of corporate objectives of most private sector organisations.

           Establish schemes that encourages private sector partnership arrangement that provides an environment for the youth to provide adequate and meaningful support towards the strengthening of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

           Establish factories along raw material production zones or regions in order to encourage entrepreneurism especially in the agricultural sector.

7.6. National Employment Policies

           Undertake proper feasibility studies to determine the benefits likely to accrue to generate youth employment from foreign investments to the economies of West African countries.

           Design well defined stand-alone youth policies tailored to meet the needs of various categories of unemployed youth.

           Promote sub-regional languages as one means to enhance sub-regional integration and entrepreneurial development.

           Adopt a gendered approach/perspective to research, innovation and technology within the informal sector especially as it relates to cross-border trade where West African women are predominant.

           Enhance the participation of the private sector in the initial stage of policy formulation.

           Enhance the designing and implementation of monitoring and evaluation systems in the private sector.

            •Establish a youth enterprise development fund to assist youth with innovative ideas who wish to set up their own businesses.

           Ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility of industries align with state policies.

           Inclusion of social development practitioners in the formulation of youth development policies and programmes.