Skills for Youth Employment and Rural Development in Western and Southern Africa

The Skills for Youth Employment and Rural Development Programme is a 5 year partnership between the ILO and the Danish Africa Commission which is supporting the social partners in Zimbabwe (Benin and Burkina Faso) - government, trade unions, employers and civil society organizations - to address the challenges of youth employment and rural development. The development objective of the ILO Skills Programme is to strengthen skills development systems that improve employability, promote access to employment opportunities and increase incomes for inclusive and sustainable growth.

The immediate objective of the Skills Programme for the period 2010 - 2014 aims to achieve quality improvements in traditional apprenticeships in the informal economy, and market driven community-based technical and vocational skills development in rural areas to close the skills gap and equip more young women and men in the informal and rural economy with skills that will improve their employability in more productive and decent work.

The skills training strategy focuses broadly on two main areas of action: 1) introducing the ILO's Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) methodology in rural communities, and 2) improving the Quality of delivery of training in Informal Apprenticeship (QIA) in the informal economy. The post-training strategy includes making microfinance and business development service markets work for youth and their self-help groups or cooperatives. And in order to ensure local ownership and sustainability, national and local stakeholders are trained and actively engaged in the design and implementation of the programme tools and methodology.

In addition, the programme approach pays attention to value chains and assures clear roles for the private sector - for example farmers' organizations, input suppliers, warehouse operators, buyers, traders, and manufacturers are involved in skills training as trade or industry experts. Evidence suggests that once the subsistence requirements of the producers' families and local communities have been met, there are three main sources of demand: export markets (international and regional), domestic urban markets, and food processing. As such, the involvement of the private sector is vital to facilitate access to high value markets.

By the end of 2014, the number of beneficiaries who are in employment, either wage-employed or gainfully self-employed, or who have increased their income is expected to reach 4,480 (70% of the total beneficiaries) with 2,380 from the TREE program and some 1,400 apprentice graduates and 700 master craft persons from Informal Apprenticeship program.