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Skills Initiative for Africa to create jobs and income opportunities for Africa’s youth

Kick-start of new “Skills Initiative for Africa”, to create jobs and income opportunities for Africa’s youth

The growing extent of youth unemployment poses a fundamental challenge for the whole of Africa. In total, around 60 percent of the unemployed are under the age of 25 and young women are especially affected. It is against this backdrop that the Skills Initiative for Africa promotes occupational prospects of young Africans through the support of innovative skills development programs and a close cooperation with the private sector.

Logo_nepadIt is in response to this huge challenge that the African Union Commission and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), initiated the Skills Initiative for Africa. Execution of this programme is being undertaken by the NEPAD Agency with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale and Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and KfW Development Bank. Its goal is to strengthen the occupational prospects of young people, especially for women and youth from poor areas. Pilot countries were selected to act as multipliers in their respective regions. The pilot countries are Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa.

The Initiative encompasses (i) an AUC/NEPAD Financing Facility for Skills Development to promote innovative TVET approaches with the potential for regional dissemination (FC component) and (ii) institutional strengthening and capacity development support to a) HRST and NEPAD/ NPCA to strengthen their TVET steering and coordination capacities and b) to establish an Africa-wide Dialogue Platform to disseminate innovative TVET approaches / good practices at the continental level (TC component).

It addresses the growing problem of youth unemployment which is a major socio-economic development concern on the African continent. Access to education and employment are a precondition for poverty reduction as well as for political stability and sustainable development. Many African countries have identified Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as key to solving these problems and have put TVET on the top of their political agendas.

The Skills Initiative shall contribute effectively to creating better employment opportunities for young people in Africa through increased skills development opportunities. Four results are to be achieved:

  1. Selected institutions have ben capacitated to provide employment oriented skills development;
  2. Access to employment oriented skills development for young people is improved, in particular for female students, students from low income groups, refugees and migrants;
  3. Private sector contributes to improve skills development by participating in the design and delivery of employment oriented skills development programmes;
  4. Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Dissemination at national, regional and continental level.

While TVET strategies have been discussed and agreed upon at the level of the AU and in a number of Member States, operationalization and implementation of these policies along with the required investments in infrastructure, equipment as well as human capital still have not been adequately addressed. Practical, financial as well as strategic cooperation with the private sector is one key to successful TVET education but presents a challenge in most countries. Also, visibility, increased awareness and social standing of TVET are hindrances that can best be confronted continent-wide as the prestige of TVET does not yet match the significant potential it can have for Member States and their citizens.

German KfW supports the NEPAD Agency as the technical arm of AUC in the establishment of a Financing Facility, which shall function as the centerpiece of the Skills Initiative. Following a competitive application process, innovative practical skills development programs in pilot countries can receive funding. A guiding principle for the selection of projects is their relevance in addressing common challenges of African Union member states in skills development. Furthermore, special consideration shall be given to the support of women and youth from low-income families. The initiative shall also initiate a close cooperation with employers and the private sector aiming at labour-market orientation of the training contents, integrating the employers in the delivery of practical training on the job to improve employability. These factors are the fundamental criteria in the assessment and selection of applications for funding.
Public and private institutions as well as NGOs and companies are eligible to submit requests in regards to their skills development programs, among others,
• for the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure,
• the procurement of technical and didactical equipment and
• the sponsoring of scholarships.
Moreover, the Financing Facility will also offer financial resources for innovative, small scale pilot projects. Three specific funding windows shall be established for the Financing Facility to provide funding for (i) larger investment projects, (ii) for innovative small scale pilot project and for (iii) projects by international entities in cooperation with African partners.