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The East African : Dec 22nd 2014
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK DECEMBER 20-26,2014 D E VE LO PME N T World population distribution by age Total population, both sexes combined, by five-year age group (thousands) been taken to fix this problem. President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised to allocate 30 per cent of all government tenders to the the amount his predecessor earmarked for the same group. While this initiative was hailed as a major breakthrough in reducing unemployment, a recent report Youth Access to Government Procurement shows that of the 30,000 youth who registered companies to do business with the government, only 6,000 benefited. From the $695 million allocated for this empowerment programme, only $33 million was used. But this slow uptake has been Source: UN Population Division 2010 Youth (10-24yrs) as a percentage of the population 32pc 31pc 32pc 31pc 32pc blamed on red tape that could have locked out many young people from the tenders. There is also the Uwezo Fund, which disburses small loans to young people to start businesses. This year, about $66 million was allocated to fund small start-ups, also, about $55 million in grants was disbursed by the Youth Enterprise Fund started by Mwai Kibaki’s administration. Another much talked about Kenya are insignificant, and the industrial sector is not expanding fast enough; in fact, much of the region is de-industrialising as energy costs rise and cheap imports from East-Asia flood markets. The rising insecurity, radi- calisation and rampant crime in Kenya, where the unemployment rate among 15 to 34-yearolds is anywhere between 60 per cent and 80 per cent, shows how having a big population of marginalised and alienated young people could severely impact a nation’s security and development. “The populations in Kenya and the region are dominated by young people and this trend will continue in coming decades,” said Eliya Zulu of the African Institute for Development Policy in Kenya. Kenya and the rest of the re- gion are not ready to take advantage of the benefits of a big youthful population because the majority of young people are not educated and are mostly en- Uganda Source: Population Reference Bureau Youth unemployment rates in EA Kenya Uganda Burundi Tanzania Rwanda Source: National bureaus of statistics and the World Bank gaged in the informal economy. “Huge investments need to be made, particularly in education, to go beyond developing artisan skills and have highly skilled young people who can produce quality goods and services in the mainstream economy,” Mr Zulu said. The Kenyan government has started a number of initiatives to address this problem which is now manifesting itself, through a high crime rate, inter-communal conflicts over scarce resources, and radicalisation among the country’s Muslim youth in Nairobi and Mombasa. While promises by politicians during campaigns to create millions of jobs have never been met, a number of steps have 70 pc 64 pc 12.9 pc 6.5 pc 0.7 pc = 5 pc Tanzania Rwanda Burundi initiative is the ongoing revamping of the National Youth Service (NYS). The government aims to recruit 21,000 young people a year, up from about 2,000, and equip them with paramilitary training. The Kenyan government hopes to train about 200,000 young people who will help counter the vigilante menace by deploying the NYS trained youth to counties to help with administration and security. To inculcate a spirit of patriot- ism, the recruits will be involved in constructing public projects such as dams and community service such as the ongoing slum upgrade programme in Nairobi’s Kibera, according to one of the consultants involved in the restructuring of the NYS. In Uganda, the government’s plan to solve youth unemployment by promotion of self-employment through the establishment of a $10 million Youth Venture Capital Fund appears not to be addressing the challenge nearly three years after the government unveiled it. The initiative was meant to support various sub-sectors, including manufacturing, agro processing, transport, education, tourism, information and communications technology, and construction for enterprise development, job creation and business skills training. Gemma Ahaibwe, a research analyst at Uganda’s Economic Policy Research Centre, who has also co-authored a paper recently titled “Promoting self-employment through entrepreneurship financing: Lessons from the Uganda Youth Venture Capital Fund,” said the country’s initiatives are yet to bear fruits as they are concentratedin the central region and urban areas. “The employment creation re- sults based on 2011 and 2013 indicate that the base year average number of employees was not significantly different for both the youth fund beneficiaries and non- youth fund beneficiaries at an average of three employees per enterprise,” Ms Ahaibwe said. Ms Ahaibwe said promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship or “do it yourself employment strategy” through the funds is not a panacea for youth unemployment, adding that the government should instead continuously implement policies that will attract more foreign direct investment and boost industrialisation to create sustainable jobs. A Youth Venture Capital Fund worth Ush25 billion ($8.95 million) was introduced in 2011 and more recently, in September 2013, government significantly boosted youth schemes by allocating Ush265 billion ($94.9 million) to the Youth Livelihood Programme over a five-year-period. In 2012, the government al- so initiated a 10-year strategy dubbed “Skilling Uganda,” emphasising a paradigm shift in a business, technical and vocational education training institutions. The strategy was to ensure that education and training follows a modular curriculum that ensures that the content is relevant to the world of work and assessment is based on industrial work standards. Additional reporting by Christopher Kidanka and Isaac Khisa education stand a bette≥ chance at employment 83pc ter labour market outcomes. Only four in 10 young secondary-school graduates were engaged in nonvulnerable employment, compared with seven in 10 in lower and middle-income countries. More worrisome is that among the low-income countries in the study, one in four young people has no education at all. In some countries, the share of uneducated young people is as high as one-half. “Increasing the level of educa- tion of the emerging workforce in developing countries will not in itself ensure the absorption of higher skilled workers into non-vulnerable jobs,” warned Theo Sparreboom, author of the study. “Yet, it is clear that continuing to push forth under-educated, underskilled youth into the labour market is a no-win situation, both for the young person who remains des- tined for a hand-to-mouth existence based on vulnerable employment, and for the economy which gains little in terms of boosting its labour productivity potential,” he added The study also points out that the nature of “skills mismatch” varies a lot between advanced and low-income economies. In advanced economies, “mis- Percentage of youth with post secondary educatin in non-vulnerable employment in 27 countries match” often refers to “over-education”, that is, the difficulty of absorbing higher skilled young people who then take up jobs for which they are overqualified. On the contrary, in low-income economies, the main concern remains the “under-education” of young workers who have no option but to take vulnerable jobs in the informal economy. The lack of education is largely fuelled by poverty — youth do not attend school because they cannot afford the costs or because they need to work to help their families. The lack of education feeds the perpetuation of poverty across generations, as unskilled workers earn lower wages and are unable to fund the schooling of their children. “The report confirms the role of 33 education in shaping the labour market outcomes of young people. It also highlights the need for more investments in quality education, from primary through academic levels,” said Azita Awad, director of the Employment Policy Department of the ILO. The study is part of the Work4Youth project, a five-year partnership between the ILO Youth Employment Programme and the MasterCard Foundation that aims to promote decent work opportunities for young men and women through knowledge and action.
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