AU and ILO prepare a continental strategy to advance decent jobs for Africa’s youth

The AU-ILO Youth Employment Strategy for Africa unveils a bold vision: a continent where all youth have access to productive and decent employment that empowers them to escape poverty and create a better future for themselves and their communities.

News | 29 May 2023
AU-ILO Youth Consultation at the African Union, Addis Ababa
ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – The African Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have embarked on a joint initiative, developing the "AU-ILO Youth Employment Strategy for Africa" (AU-ILO YES-Africa). The strategy aims to charter the path towards innovative solutions for creating meaningful employment for Africa's youth. In the backdrop of the 4th Specialised Technical Committee on Youth, Culture, and Sports, the AU, in conjunction with the ILO, gathered over 150 youth representatives from across the continent for extensive consultations. Hosted at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa 18 – 19 May 2023, the young delegates highlighted the principal challenges of decent work faced by today's youth. The vibrant discussions featured innovative solutions and best practices for promoting decent employment. Crucially, the forum highlighted the potential of youth-led initiatives in reinforcing the efforts of governments, social partners, and other stakeholders.

Alexio Musindo, ILO Country Director for the Horn of Africa and Special Representative to the AU and ECA

Alexio Musindo, ILO Country Director for the Horn of Africa and Special Representative to the African Union, underscored the significance of the initiative at the event, noting, "The AU-ILO Youth Employment Strategy for Africa serves both as a compass and a rallying call for African nations to invest in transforming the world of work in Africa and fuel the creation of decent employment for African youth."

Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Division of Labour, Employment and Migration of the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development, AUC

Sabelo Mbokazi, Head of Labour, Employment & Migration at the AU Commission, shared his insights virtually: "We are shaping YES-Africa to establish foundational principles and benchmarks for addressing youth employment in Africa." He added, "the Strategy will articulate AU’s and ILO’s value addition on youth employment and job creation across the region as well as highlight the opportunities for scaling up action through leveraging partnerships, including through the African Union. The goal is to develop a clear, strategic, and thematic narrative for youth employment work in Africa – in the context of a human-centred recovery and future of work transitions and to co-create a first draft covering the main section of the strategy while also spelling out areas that require further work.”

Daniel Adugna, Youth Development Lead at the Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate, AUC
Daniel Adugna, Youth Development Lead at the Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate of the African Union Commission, commented, "Our mission is to generate millions of job opportunities for young individuals in the coming years. Each year, millions of youth enter the labour market, yet scarce productive and decent work options await them in line with the vision of the African Youth Charter and the One Million Next Level Initiative which aims to create 300 million opportunities in Employment, Entrepreneurship, Education, Engagement and Health for Africa’s Youth by 2023." "We need to transition from merely redistributing current opportunities to restructuring our economies to generate more jobs for our youth. This requires an influx of fresh ideas and perspectives from young people to collaboratively address the continent's youth unemployment and decent employment issues," Mr Adugna elaborated.

Jonas Bausch, ILO Youth Employment Specialist for Africa

Jonas Bausch, ILO Youth Employment Specialist for Africa, spoke on the significance of the strategy: "The youth population in Africa is growing rapidly, and the availability of productive jobs is not keeping pace. YES-Africa aspires to change that by directing investors towards the key sectors for youth employment. These sectors, including the digital economy, green jobs, and the care economy, are set to gain more importance in the upcoming decades. YES-Africa will also provide a strategic framework to guide these investments and stimulate the structural transformation of economies and labour markets across the region."

The Youth Consultations concluded with the collection of feedback from youth representatives on their continued involvement in the refinement and implementation of the AU-ILO Youth Employment Strategy for Africa at regional and country levels. These valuable inputs will be integrated into the evolving strategy.

The outcomes of the youth consultations were tabled to the experts of Youth and subsequently Ministers in charge of Youth during their ordinary session of the 4th specialised technical Committee in Youth, Culture and Sports (STC-YCS4) and were adopted unanimously. The recommendations will be used as inputs in the subsequent consultations and development of the YES Africa as well as African Roadmap for Youth Empowerment and development 2024 – 2030.