ILO launches a series of country briefs on youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa

The briefs analyze youth labour market issues and the school-to-work transition in seven sub-Saharan countries, review their youth employment policies and provide a sub-regional overview of youth employment trends.

News | 29 June 2023
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GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO), in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has launched a new series of policy briefs examining trends and issues in youth employment, including the impact of COVID-19 in seven sub-Saharan African countries.

A webinar on youth employment and school-to-work transitions in Africa, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, and YouthForesight, provided the platform for the launch of the country briefs and a cross-country review of youth employment, school-to-work transition and the impact of COVID-19 on youth labour market outcomes in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda.

Using the most recent harmonized labour force survey micro-datasets available on the ILO’s YouthSTATS database, the briefs outline the youth labour market situation in the seven countries.

“Action is urgently needed to expand decent work opportunities for the rapidly growing youth populations of Africa”, says Niall O’Higgins, Senior Employment Research and Technical Specialist, ILO Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch. “Policies and programmes must be based on a clear understanding of the challenges young people face as they embark upon the school-to-work transition. That means more and better evidence on young people’s situation and the available policy measures to support the transition. These briefs provide a step in that direction”.

By examining specific youth labour market indicators, including the share of young people not in employment, education or training (the NEET rate) and the ILO’s School-to-Work Transition indicators, the briefs assess where progress has or has not been made, as well as examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing detailed analyses of trends and issues facing young people in the labour market in these countries. The briefs pay special attention to assessing the specific labour market situation of young women and young people with disabilities utilizing data from the ILO’s new Disability Labour Market Indicators Database.

The briefs also outline the main youth employment policies and strategies in the seven countries and are available in the Youth Employment Strategies section of the Employment Policy Gateway. Along with reviewing traditional policies and measures aimed at promoting youth employment, the series also looks at youth-sensitive measures in the green and digital economies, as well as at gender and disability mainstreaming.

“These briefs provide a valuable overview of youth labour market dynamics in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on the unique circumstances faced by the most marginalized – young women, young people with disabilities, and those living in rural areas. This important analysis is critical to enhancing our ability to design targeted programs that generate opportunities for young people to secure work that is dignified and fulfilling,” said Dr. Tade Aina, Senior Director of Research at the Mastercard Foundation.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian Foundation and one of the world's largest foundations, with a mission to advance education and financial inclusion. It works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. The Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is an independent organization and separate from the company. Its policies, operations, and programs are determined by the Foundation's Board of Directors and leadership.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit

About YouthForesight

YouthForesight is a knowledge facility launched by the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and Generation Unlimited in 2021 to serve as a one-stop shop providing curated tools, publications, databases, and resources to support policymakers and practitioners to scale up evidence-based action on supporting youth employment. The platform hosts over 1,200 resources from over 70 partners and has recorded more than 100,000 unique visitors. YouthForesight also facilitates knowledge dissemination and peer-to-peer learning through webinar series and newsletters. In addition, the YouthForesight online Community Forum, a space for practitioners, broader stakeholders, and young people to connect, collaborate, and exchange knowledge, brings together over 700 community members in six thematic groups.

For more information on YouthForesight, please visit: