Decent jobs for youth should top African development agenda: ILO

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Addis Abeba, 4 December 2013 (WIC) - With more than two thirds of young workers’ potential not fully utilized, there is an urgent need for countries in Sub Saharan Africa to create quality jobs for youth, a new ILO study says.

A press release issued by ILO said African countries have experienced incredible economic growth over the past several years. The World Bank projects that GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa will hit 4.9 percent this year,

rise to 5.3 percent in 2014 and to 5.5 percent in 2015. But the quantity and quality of jobs for youth remains a huge challenge. According to the report titled “Labor market transitions of young women and men in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the average youth labor underutilization rate in the region, which adds the share of youth in irregular employment, unemployment and inactive non-students, reached 67.1 percent in 2012/13. The study was prepared for the first Work4Youth Regional Conference, which is taking place this week in Addis Ababa.

While opening the Conference, ILO Employment Policy Department Director Azita Berar Awad said countries in Sub- Saharan Africa need to create quality jobs that guarantee the necessary income and material independence for workers and their families.

The Director said “The low quality of jobs does not allow either the youth or the countries they are living in to fully tap into the region’s true economic potential”. Only around half of the youth in the region (53.2 percent) are working, while only one youth in four works in a standard employment relationship with a written contract, the report says.

Informality and vulnerable employment remain the reality for the vast majority of young workers in the region. The study was based on recent school-to-work transition surveys (SWTS), which were carried out in eight sub-Saharan African countries namely Benin, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia under the ILO’s Work4Youth (W4Y) Project, a global partnership between the ILO and The MasterCard Foundation.

The SWTS household survey, which covered youth aged 15 to 29, took place between 2012 and 2013 in the eight sub-Saharan African countries and in an additional 20 countries around the world. They will be run a second time in the same countries in 2014-15. The results of each survey round will be shared with policy makers, the ILO social partners, and international and non-governmental organizations to help them develop national youth policies and programs for Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to ENA, the Adds Ababa meeting, organized by the ILO Youth Employment Program, provides an opportunity to better assess how statistical evidence can support the design and monitoring of policy toward improved labor market transitions of young people in the region. Governments’, workers’ and employers’ representatives drawn from the eight sub-Saharan African countries covered by the study, as well as senior officials from Ethiopia and observers from regional and international institutions, civil society and development partners, are taking part in the two-day conference.

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