Youth employability

foodFIRST Vijverbergsession

Globally, there are 74 million people unemployed between the ages of 15 – 24 representing 40% of global unemployment. At least 200 million young people globally work in insecure jobs, earning less than US$ 2 per day. With an increasing number of young people entering the job market, it is predicted that at least 600 million new jobs need to be created within the next 10 years to sustain this expanding labor force. Yet many young people lack relevant market skills required for employment within the private sector and there is a mismatch between the market supply and demand. There is a need to investing in young people to acquire market relevant skills and develop their business and leadership abilities for meaningful employment. During the session we will explore four key issues, focussing on how these apply to opportunities for young people in the agro-business.

Rik Overmars (SNV)

In this Vijverbergsession we talk about youth employment and underemployment. Both are about about market opportunities in the value chain. In Africa there are lots of opportunities in primary production and wharehousing. What factors, then, inhibit youth to seize these oportunities. Is there a mismatch with the skills (young) people have. Is there a lack of access to finance and land that hinders (young) entrepreneurs. These questions will be addressed.

Eelco Baan (SNV)

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The Opportunities Youth Employment (OYE) project - . This project consists of several projects funded by USAid, the EU, and in for this project case the Mastercard Foundation.

The challenge we face is the untapped youth potential of about 74 million unemployed young people aged 15-25 globally, and over 200 million young people in insecure jobs. This leads to dissatisfaction and frustration. This youth is more likely to challenge their situation actively and become adestabilising force. At the same time, we see a growing market demand for skilled labour. So, do do young people lack relevant market skills required for employment and do they lack the means required to start a business?

There is a correlation between market functioning and unemployment: the hi ghest unemployment is found in countries with less market pull.

The approach of SNV has three elements: workforce development; enterprise development; leadership development. These three are accompanied by digital inclusion, financial inclusion and gender equality,and embedded in ecosystem development.

Offering employment involves a match between the push of p roviding youth with market-relevant skills and the pull of available employment and enterprise development in agribusiness. Traditional interventions start at the push, and often result in training for unemployment because there is no demand for the skills being taught. SNV start with the pull, asking which skills are in demand and which profile youth has to have to fill these positions.

Results of the programme show a fairly high retention rate and substantial output. 83% of enrolled yout completed the training, and half of those found employment after the training, with also a higher then expected number of startups resulting from the programme.

Lastly, agriculture is not the solution for all people at all ages. We have to face three simultaneous strategies at work: ‘Hanging in’, i.e. investing in agriculture so that people stay in business; ‘Stepping up’, i.e., promoting growth in agribusiness and raising income; ‘Stepping Out’, i.e. boosting growth in non-farm activities which can absorb workers.

Mirjam Horstmeier (Oxfam Novib)

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When we discuss youth and access to assets, we talk about their:

  • Social capital: their low status and submissive roll in society
  • Natural capital: access to land is a major barrier;
  • Financial capital: no mortgage, no credit;
  • Physical capital: being mobile despite weak infrastructure;
  • Human capital: skills knowledge and health.

Rural youth trying to work in agriculture mainly depend on their skills, workforce and mobility to create a living. Our challenge is not to exclude them, when shortening the value chain, but to professionalise and organise the particular component of the chain.

Regarding the social capital, Oxfam has designed the Gender Action Learning System (GALS). GALS is a community-led empowerment methodology for livelihoods improvement and gender justice based on distinctive principles, visual diagramming tools and peer learning mechanisms. GALS enables marginalised people as well as influential public and private actors to reflect on their situation, analyse markets and relationships, identify challenges and take action to address these and develop visions where they want to be.

OxfamNovib is setting up rural Hubs for poor climate treat districts in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia (Empower Youth for Work project).

Research not finalised but we know now:

  • That we need to go back to local and make that modern and attractive (see also “farming with sneakers” of SNV);
  • That a HUB can only be sustainable if ait is set up from a business perspective. NGO’s have to work with private sector!
  • A Hub should be w place where own saving systems and joint services are organized;
  • That because of being together within the agriculture value chain young people can replace some middle men;

Oxfam Novib wants these Hubs to be labs for incubation, pilots, design, start ups. An incubator is for people who do not know how and where to start; start-ups are people already in business. The hubs should connect needs and offers (products, expertise, job fairs, technology) and provide shared services and local ownership.

Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna (CTA, Opportunities and challenges for young women)

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[Can I put the video on our You Tube channel? It will only be playable via the foodFIRST site]

Awa Caba from Senegal developed an E-commerce platform to help rural women access markets for their processed products. SHe was part of the Part of CTA- ICT4AG programme, which supports about 250 ICT entrepreneurs so far.

AWA presents a face of hope, creativity, and opportunity; the face of the new Africa.

Education has changed the traditional mind-sets of women, they can think freely now. Technology is changing social and spatial relations - every spot is market place – and provides access to information. The big challenge is still that access to other productive resources, such as finance, has not changed yet.

There are challenges. The majority of rural younger women are not as lucky as AWA. They are less educated and havelower confidence in the public arena. Time is their biggest limitation, as they often have to juggle family and work (a study of SNV 2016). Further on, gender norms limit social interactions and access to resources, finance, technical skills, market networks.

How to change this?

  • Push more women into higher levels businesses in agrobusiness, not staying in production;
  • Engendering access to productive resources: finance, land, technical skills;
  • Connecting women so they to learn and be inspired;
  • Promote use of technology, ICT4AG has changed the way women access opportunities and services;
  • Disseminate time saving technologies.

Hester Pronk and Hilde van der Vegt (Edukans)

Implementation of PROOFS (project of Edukans, BuZa, ICCO): training the employers so that they were able to provide a learning environment for apprenticeships. What the youth was going to learn was the ony incentive for this project, because they had to pay their own way. In the end, 70% had a job at the employer, or had started their own business at the end of the 5 month traject.

From the discussion

The example of the chicken farm shows two important issues about the role of policies. First, this is a farm that is in business and that is serving a policy of importsubstitution, so here there is indeed an effective policy in place. And in general, policies have to be in place first, in order not to train for useless skills. Seconly, we also have to realise that policy interventions are much discussed but often not implemented.

What is the entry point for your interventions? Do you start at schools, business, or anywhere else? And what is the scalability of your projects.

SNV talk with companies and ask them what kind profile to they need for their workers? Matching these profiles with available youth can be challenging.

GALS: it also depends the activity and on what kind of community one works for. For some of the hubs we go and meet community leaders. For start-ups in Nigeria, we worked completely online; in Somalia it had to go mouth-to-mouth. And there is IBAN (?), an international business network that works like an facebook for SME’s.

Scaling the projects: think big from the start. Collaboration with companies is key for this. What triggers companies to participate? Example of exporting sesameseed by a farm in Mazambique to India. The owner was looking for employees, he saw the programme, and a common agenda was developed, and it started rolling. The company invested in youth who started working on the farm, and eventually, because of this, investment by the World Bank was posssible, because for them youth is a central criterion.

Linking up with the private partners: do it with a sector, as for example in an Edukans project, the hospitality sector. The works better than first looking for individual companies in an area, or an ngo trying to set something up. In that way, one can work locally and on a national scale at the same time.

Is it possible to employ everyone in Afrika? Every sector has their limit of how much employment it can offer. Here we need new business initiatives, new enterprises. ICT has potential, for one.

Then how do you attrackt youth to farming? When ICT is being used in agriculture, the youth is coming back to farming, back from the city. But in the end, being able to earn good money is fundamental, and if ict helps with that, then it works.

Increasing productivity so that one can earn more income (more than the parents) is an incentive. But alternative employment in other sectors than agricutlure y is also needed, for with increased production, fewer people are needed on the land. That is an issue when scalling up businesses.

So, purely from the perspective of agriculture, scaling up and development will not lead to people ‘hanging in’, but rather to more people ‘stepping out’ of agriculture. If you take the perspective of the food system, i.e., producing food for the local market, then there are more perspectives.

Lots of the initiatives that we talked about are rather in the informal sector, offering a variety of income generating activities, but that does not help to create stable employment or to formalize your activities in a company that is more than a one-person-business. Familiy businesses are also important. In lots of succesfull farms the wife puts effort in meeting the bottom line with her work, and the man does the networking and arranging the finances for the business. Once informal businesses formalize, with better book keeping, for instance, they bevome eligible for financing by banks. That of course leaves the question that about 70% of food is produced by small holder farms, the less formalized businesses; how do you prepair and train them.