JOBS FOR YOUTH KEY TO AFRICA’S CONTINUED ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SOCIAL COHESION – UN REPORT
With the number of youths in Africa set to double by 2045, countries across the continent should boost job creation and help young people acquire new skills, according to the African Economic Outlook 2012.
“Creating productive employment for Africa’s rapidly growing young population is an immense challenge but also the key to future prosperity”, say the authors in the foreword.
Co-written by the African Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report says youth are an opportunity for future economic growth.
Between 2000 and 2008, despite world-topping economic growth rates, and a better educated youth, Africa created only 16 million jobs for young people aged between 15 and 24.
Today, youth represent 60 percent of the continent’s unemployed, and of these 40 million youths, 22 million have given up on finding a job, many of them women.
“The continent is experiencing jobless growth”, said Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). “That is an unacceptable reality on a continent with such an impressive pool of youth, talent and creativity”.
The report argues youth unemployment figures will increase unless Africa moves swiftly to make youth employment a priority, turning its human capital into economic opportunity. On the other hand, youths can present a significant threat to social cohesion and political stability if they do not secure decent living conditions.
High growth alone is not sufficient to guarantee productive employment. Youth employment is largely a problem of quality in low-income countries and one of quantity in middle-income countries, the report says.
“In low-income countries, most young people work but are poor nevertheless. In African middle-income countries, on the other hand, such as South Africa or the Northern African countries, despite better education, more youth are inactive than working”, said Mario Pezzini, Director at the OECD Development Centre.