Still no recovery for Africa's youth unemployment crisis

Despite a slight decrease between 2012 and 2014, youth unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa remains worrisome. In North Africa, trapped at a staggering 30.5 %, the level is still the highest worldwide, a new ILO Report revealed.

Press release | 09 October 2015
ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) - The youth unemployment rate in Africa has been evolving up and down in recent years with a declining trend in sub-Saharan Africa and the highest ever in North Africa, according to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2015.

The new report outlines priorities to address youth employment challenge including levels of education in Africa that are comparatively low creating a considerable skills gap among youth at working age.

In sub-Saharan Africa, three in five young workers (61.4 per cent) do not have the level of education expected to make them productive on the job, the report notes.

The report emphasized that the incidence of long-term unemployment among youth in sub-Saharan Africa reached 48.1 per cent in 2014; consequently few youth are able to match their aspirations to reality, with limited job opportunities quickly slipping away.

“Undereducation of young workers remains a significant concern and an important hindrance to transformative growth in Africa” underscored Sara Elder, the report’s lead author.

The report argues also that for youth in sub-Saharan Africa who do not have the luck to get their decent job on the first try; it can take another three years to complete the transition.

Investing in skills and in quality job creation

Providing youth the best opportunity to transition to a decent job calls for investing in education and training of the highest possible quality, providing youth with skills that match labour market demands, states the ILO study.

If not, warns the report, youth who complete their tertiary education in North Africa are between two to three times more likely to be unemployed than the youth with primary education or less.

The report also highlights a persistent gender gap with the rates of young women’s participation in the labour market being significantly lower than those of young men. In North Africa, the unemployment rate of young women exceeds that of young men by as much as 20 percentage points.

Breaking the cycle of low access to quality education and training must remain a primary focus in the 2030 development agenda, concludes the report.