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Published on 01/09/2011

Professional Insertion for the Young: A Growing Challenge

Young people’s professional insertion is crucial for the development of developing countries but has by and large been forgotten in sectoral interventions and policies. Since 2008, GRET has been testing a scheme specifically targeting professional integration for young people.

The Main Challenges for Youth Employment in Developing Countries

The problem of young people’s employment in developing countries presents itself in a similar fashion in many countries, where poverty, population growth and rural exodus exist simultaneously. Many little-qualified young people without professional prospects are pouring into large cities. The formal sector is unable to employ enough of them, and the informal sector is the main path to acquire skills and employment.

The policies in African countries, where GRET is active in the field of training and professional insertion, often address employment, education and training differently, and the solutions proposed remain confined within a sectoral approach. The education and technical and vocational training systems are generally somewhat unconnected to the professional world and unable to handle enough young people beyond primary education. The post-primary stage is a pivotal and problematic one for young people leaving the educational system who need to acquire professional qualifications to obtain active employment.

Successful insertion for young people therefore requires ensuring a better match between vocational training and jobs, providing young people with support, and adjusting policies so that they truly take into account insertion.

An Approach to Youth Insertion Via the Workplace

Young people’s professional insertion is at the crossroads of two of GRET’s historical areas of intervention and runs across its actions: small business support and technical and vocational training.

The informal sector is an unavoidable site for employment and professionalism building. For approximately twenty years, GRET has provided support services for small economic operators in the informal sector, crafts and agrifoods in both urban and rural areas. Since the start of the 2000s, GRET has extended the scope of its interventions to include training professional insertion for young people. This requires access to training that is appropriate for the local job market, in particular the informal sector, and that is coordinated with existing formal education. It also requires accompanying the professional insertion of young people and bringing young people, businesses and training centers into contact with each other.

Cap Insertion, GRET’s First Project Devoted Specifically to Youth Employment

The “Centre d’Appui à l’Insertion des jeunes de Nouakchott – Cap Insertion” scheme is testing a system to support the insertion of young people from outlying settlements around the capital of Mauritania. It is based on a pilot scheme run by GRET as part of the Twize program between 2004 and 2008.

Implemented by GRET since 2009, Cap Insertion aims to prove the interest of a comprehensive service offer located close to young people in precarious settlements, and identify the conditions necessary to make the scheme sustainable.

Three Cap Insertion branches have been opened in outlying settlements. Each offers different services: welcoming young people, defining a professional path and project, teaching job search techniques, providing information and support-advice, facilitating and setting up training courses, collecting and distributing job offers, and animating a network of businesses and training centers.

From January to November 2010, the Cap Insertion branches provided individual assistance to more than 2,000 young people and helped 955 youths develop their insertion paths. Round table discussions and workshops on job search techniques were attended by more than 2,600 people. 1,025 businesses, above all informal, were contacted, and 658 job or internship offers were received. 145 young people found internships or jobs, and 77 began diploma-granting training courses with Cap Insertion’s support.

 Launch of the PAFPA Program to Strengthen Training via Internships (Benin, Mauritania)

GRET will be responsible for this program, financed by the European Union and implemented by the Bureau d’Appui aux Artisans in Benin and by the Institut National d’Appui et de Promotion de la Formation Technique et Professionnelle (Inap-FTP) in Mauritania. The PAFPA program will strengthen and develop a supply of training in alternation with internships for young men and women from disadvantaged areas. It will be conceived in such a way as to be sustainable, reactive to the skills needs of micro and small enterprises, and recognized in the framework of a joint action by public institutions, businesses and the concerned training centers.

For More Information:

  • Forthcoming in early March: “Contribuer à l’insertion professionnelle des jeunes en Afrique de l’Ouest : enseignement tirés de 4 expériences novatrices”, Sandra Barlet, Anne Le Bissonnais. L’actualité des services aux entreprises (BDS News),
  • On youth employment: “Accompagner l’insertion professionnelle des jeunes au Niger – État des lieux et pistes d’action”, Études & Travaux en Ligne No. 26, Anne Le Bissonnais (Link to GRET’s Website), 2010.
  • On cooperation in the field of education and vocational training: “Regard sur la coopération française en matière d’éducation et de formation professionnelle”, Études & Travaux en Ligne No. 20, Sandra Barlet, Christian Baron, Damien Lagandré, 2008.