Giving Compass’ Take:
• An article at Brookings presents an in-depth look at the missing jobs crisis that’s leaving young workers without employment across much of Africa.
• What are the common misinterpretations of the missing jobs crisis in Africa? How can you learn more about an equitable and just approach to addressing the systemic gaps underlying the issue?
Even before the global pandemic, many young Africans struggled to find productive employment, often finding themselves underemployed or perpetually engaged in low-paid, low-productivity, precarious self-employment. This trend, paired with a persistent, although, we argue, unfounded, worry among political leaders and the international community that some frustrated young people may turn to violent crime, militant extremism, or protest, has fostered a plethora of youth employment initiatives. Most of these initiatives focus on delivering post-school vocational training or entrepreneurship coaching to young people—and their impacts on youth earnings or the overall economy have not been particularly encouraging.
In our recent Brookings paper, we argue that such efforts are bound to fail because Africa’s “youth unemployment” crisis is actually a “missing jobs” crisis. Indeed, many people in Africa do not so much lack skills or education as the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in ways that drive their countries forward economically. We argue that, rather than this being a problem specific to young people, in fact, people of all ages face a staggering shortage of formal, productive jobs—the type that could be considered “good” or ”decent” work.
The dominant focus on bringing about youth employment through training is a case of a false problem diagnosis leading to the wrong interventions, which are not only ineffective in the short run but also waste urgently needed resources. Churning out better qualified and more motivated job seekers has not created more jobs—and instead has drawn funding and attention away from strategies that could create more jobs. The problem needs to be recognized for what it really is: a crisis of missing jobs.
Read the full article about the missing jobs crisis in Africa at Brookings.
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