According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), youth employment in Africa remains one of the most pressing issues on the continent. Estimates are currently as high as 60% for youth unemployment, with the effects of Covid-19 continuing to exacerbate the issue.
It has been projected that youth entering the labour market today, and over the next decade, face a set of constrained choices. The current levels of economic development and transformation will not provide enough wage employment opportunities to match the high rate of growth of the labour force.
Studies have highlighted an under-skilling and over-skilling problem in Africa. Years of higher education are not translating into better employment opportunities; unemployment is highest among those with the highest levels of education.
Alternatively, for those in employment, the well-educated are likely to report that their skills are not being utilised to their full potential. There is a mismatch between the skills African students obtain in school and those required by employers, resulting in majority of Africa’s youth working in the informal economy or being underemployed. Young women also tend to face more disadvantages in access to work, and are more likely to experience poor working conditions than their male counterparts.
As the world’s youngest region, improving employment opportunities, especially for youth, is important to the economic development and transformation of the continent, to reap the demographic dividend offered by the continent’s growing young population.
In recent engagements, LSE African students expressed how these factors affect them, particularly the obstacles they face when transitioning into the job market after graduating from LSE. In response to these issues, the Africa Engagement Programme (AEP) developed the AEP Career Transitions Lab in 2021.