1. If you look at the 3 regions that we focus on (MENA, Horn of Africa, Sahel) – can you mention specific trends per region which are relevant for the strategy. Are there, for example, specific sectors where there is much to be gained? Or specific skills that young people lack in a certain region or sector?
When it comes to well-informed policy making, it is important to know where to find information on labour market needs & dynamics. In addition to the many useful known sources such as labour force surveys and public employment service statistics and ‘usual suspects’ like government agencies and development actors, it helps to tap information on industry trends, growth sectors and much-needed skills sets directly from the private sector itself, as one of its main stakeholders.
2. Do you have examples of successful "scaled up" initiatives / programs in the field of education and work to increase youth employment, and if so, which ones? Or do you know of certain successful initiatives that are worth scaling up in the 3 regions mentioned?
As PUM we are very active in the area of vocational education & training. This area is an important entry point to provide youth with a better economic perspective, by strengthening their employability and improving their access to decent, productive jobs.
Part and parcel of our support is the involvement of the private sector, as direct beneficiary and/ or as key partner. In the area of vocational education & training, a typical partnership for the development initiatives in which PUM is involved consists of a vocational training institute, a trade (branche) organisation representing the private sector and PUM. An example is the support programme in The Gambia in which PUM collaborates with the Gambia Tourism & Hospitality Institute and the Gambia Hotel Association, aimed at delivering much-needed well-educated employees to the country’s booming tourism industry. These kinds of initiatives have the potential to be scaled up or to be replicated in other market sectors and settings, capitalizing on the heightened interest in vocational education & training in a growing number of countries.
4. Anything else you feel is worth mentioning?
A key stakeholder not to overlook in developing this strategy is the private sector itself. The great potential for new decent and productive jobs for youth lies with the private sector, particularly among the large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that form the backbone of the target countries’ economies. Moreover, private sector partners are vital to identify labour market needs and dynamics, to help design vocational training curricula and to provide youth with highly needed work experience opportunities via apprentices and traineeships that facilitate the school-to-work transition. For interventions aimed at youth employment it is therefore imperative to consult and involve the private sector to make sure that these interventions are demand-driven, responsive to market changes and co-owned by the private sector as one of its main stakeholders.
Due to the limited absorption capacity of the labour market in the target countries, much of the required growth in (self-)employment opportunities in these setting probably has to come from new business activities. This necessitates to focus on promoting entrepreneurship and improving the business environment in which start-ups and early-stage businesses can survive and grow, for example through business incubators.