Promoting occupational prospects of young Africans
Project title: Skills Initiative for Africa
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), European Union (EU)
Country: Africa (supraregional)
Lead executing agency: African Union (AU), represented by the AU Commission (AUC) and the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD)
Overall term: 2016 to 2022
Growing youth unemployment poses a fundamental challenge for the African continent. In total, around 60 per cent of unemployed people are under the age of 25 and young women are especially affected. Although access to quality education and appropriate job opportunities are essential for the reduction of poverty, political stability, participation, sustainable development, and educational programmes with a practical orientation, they are hard to come by in many African countries. The lack of educational opportunities results in both poor personal and occupational prospects and is one of the reasons why many young people choose to leave their homes in search of a more prosperous future elsewhere.
In Member States of the African Union, the conditions for employment-oriented skills development are improved.
In response to these challenges, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA) in 2016. SIFA consists of two components: A Finance Facility and a Technical Component.
Establishment of a Finance Facility for SIFA
Accessing financial resources to implement innovative approaches in skills development is a challenge. As a response, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau( KFW) supports the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) under its new mandate as the implementing agency of the AUC to establish a Finance Facility. Following a competitive application process, innovative employment-oriented skills development projects can receive funding. The Finance Facility is currently operating in eight pilot countries.
Development of an African dialogue platform
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports (AUDA- NEPAD and the AUC in facilitating a continental dialogue on employment-oriented skills development with a strong involvement of the private sector. The gathering and disseminating of good practice approaches in African countries aims at improving quality, access and relevance of skills development projects. Exchange and dialogue take place both online through the African Skills Portal for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (ASPYEE) – and offline through national, regional and continental dialogue platforms like Africa Talks Jobs (ATJ). To achieve a strong involvement of the private sector, SIFA works closely with employers’ associations on the national and continental levels. The acquired knowledge also informs investment decisions of the Finance Facility in the pilot countries.
With the co-funding of the Technical Component by the European Union SIFA was extended from an AU-German into a multi-donor initiative. As new technical partners, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Training Foundation (ETF) joined the initiative to implement activities relating to labour market information systems in selected AU member states and the development of an African Continental Qualification Framework.
At the end of 2017, the AUC and AUDA-NEPAD with the support of GIZ initiated the dialogue format Africa Talks Jobs (ATJ), to address the topics of youth employment and skills development with a broad stakeholder involvement on a continental level. The first two conferences in October 2017 and October 2018 brought together representatives from the private sector, International organisations, educational institutions, civil society and politics from all African Region. More than 120 companies and associations pledged during the Africa Talks Jobs conference to invest in skills development for African youth. Building on this success story, the continental dialogue will be transformed from “Africa Talks Jobs” (ATJ) into “Africa Creates Jobs” (ACJ). The new format will have a focus on promoting implementation of new partnerships, sharing of best practices, and practice-oriented policy dialogue.