Ethiopia – November 22 2019

Africa’s future: Promoting youth employment in Ethiopia

With the largest population of young people in the world and a projected 42% increase in the number of youth by 2030, new approaches are needed to tackle the mounting unemployment crisis in Africa.

Rapid urbanization paired with population growth is driving the high youth unemployment rates across the African continent.

Lively discussions on the challenges of youth employability took center stage at the second annual ‘Youth Entrepreneurship and Employability Forum’ (YES Forum) in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa this fall, where SOS Children’s Villages heard first-hand from experts and young entrepreneurs.

Daniel Solana, who works on the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth at the International Labour Organization, hosted a panel on the role of skill development for employment and entrepreneurship.

“In order to move forward and create the perspective for a just and sustainable future, we need to invest in people through a human-centred approach to the future of work,” says Mr. Solana. “That means investing in jobs, skills and social protection. It means supporting gender equality.”

There is no unique determinant of the youth employment challenge in the African region. Rather, a combination of factors contributes to compounding a difficult situation. In sub-Saharan Africa, youth unemployment rates are relatively low, as young people simply cannot afford to be unemployed, explains Mr. Solana.

“These youth regularly suffer from under-employment and lack of decent working conditions, and employment in the informal economy is the norm,” he added.

Fayo Adem, a 29-year-old entrepreneur who grew up in an SOS Children’s Village in the eastern Ethiopian town of Harar and now owns her own tourism company, remembers the difficulties she encountered on her career path.

“In Africa, there is a lack of networking, support, skills and knowledge exchange,” says Fayo, speaking on a panel composed of young African entrepreneurs. “Trainings that are provided are often impractical. They should be engaging, up-to-date and should teach skills like how to adjust to rapidly changing situations in a context like Ethiopia.”

Despite these challenges, Fayo remains confident that with determination and resilience, anyone can make it.

“Take risks, stand out, get out of your comfort zone and overcome the fear of failure,” Fayo advises young people looking to start their own business. “I failed so many times–but I got back up and walked forward each time. I learned every step of the way.”

A poster from the YES Forum, part of the World Export Development Forum 2019


SOS Children’s Villages works to confront the challenge of youth employment rates across the globe. The GoTeach parternship with Deutsche Post DHL Group started in 2011 with four countries and has since expanded to 43 countries.

The global youth employment initiative YouthCan!, which encompasses a number of corporate partners, has now reached more than 5,000 young people in more than 30 countries. Working with around 1,300 corporate volunteers to offer trainings, exposure to their first working environment and in-person and online mentoring, YouthCan! strives to bridge the opportunity gap for disadvantaged youths so they can reach their potential.

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