Volume 49 Number 5
Published: November 27, 2018
Globally, governments, development agencies, and inter-governmental institutions have invested heavily in skills-building interventions seeking to enhance the employability of youths. However, policy actors are becoming more aware of the shortcomings of skills-building interventions, and attention is shifting to focus on how to promote productivity, boost the private sector, and generate the kind of growth that could create jobs. While policymakers have endorsed the role of the private sector as a job generator, it remains unclear whether, and under what conditions, the formal private sector generates enough and decent jobs. Empirical research on youth employment in the private sector is sparse. This IDS Bulletin begins to fill that gap. The articles here have been authored by young African scholars from the Matasa Fellows Network, convened by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in collaboration with Mastercard Foundation. These early-career academics from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe were selected to consider the role that could be played by the formal private sector in job creation in Africa. Case studies come from their respective countries. While some aspects of the youth employment challenge are common to all six countries, the local contexts and situations are unique and sectoral. This IDS Bulletin explores the scope of research and policy challenges in three specific areas: agribusiness and youth employment; skills gaps and youth employability; and youth employment in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The articles demonstrate the importance of effective policy measures to ensure that private sector growth creates sufficient numbers of decent, secure jobs to provide employment to African youth.