Skills development key for addressing unemployment in Africa: experts

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KIGALI, May 15 (Xinhua) — Investing in employability skills development and entrepreneurship holds the key to addressing unemployment among the growing youth population in Africa, according to experts.

At the opening of the 19th International Labor Organization (ILO) Regional Seminar for Labor-based Practitioners which kicked off on Monday in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, Fanfan Rwanyindo, the Rwandan Minister of Public Service and Labor, emphasized the need to integrate employability skills development and job creation initiatives into national plans.

“Skills mismatch remains the primary barrier to job creation and labor productivity, posing a serious threat to the economies of countries,” she said.

To tackle this issue, Rwanyindo said that the Rwandan government is implementing a national skill development and employment promotion strategy, aiming to bridge the gap between labor market demand and supply.

Hendrina Doroba, the Division Manager for Education and Skills Development at the African Development Bank (AfDB), stressed the catalytic role of skills development and entrepreneurship in empowering and promoting sustainable growth in Africa.

Doroba emphasized the importance of creating an enabling environment for the private sector to generate sufficient job opportunities, as currently, a significant percentage of young people entering the labor market in sub-Saharan Africa remain unemployed or underemployed in the informal sector.

Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, the ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the significance of skills development and increased employment-intensive infrastructure investments in addressing employment challenges among both youth and adult workers in Africa. She underscored the need for innovative approaches and tools in policy and program development related to employment.

“African continent is working on developing an employment-intensive investment strategy, in collaboration with the African Union Commission and other key partners, to complement the ongoing youth employment strategy and address youth unemployment in Africa,” said Olonjuwon.

According to the ILO, although unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa remain relatively low, a significant proportion of employable youth face underemployment and lack decent working conditions.

Among the estimated total working poor in sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for 23.5 percent. Young girls often face greater disadvantages in accessing work and experience worse working conditions compared to their male counterparts, with employment in the informal economy being the norm.

The seminar, which will run until May 19, has attracted more than 1,000 people from across Africa and beyond.

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