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Published on 03/02/2016

Training: the key to youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the combination of demographic growth and urbanisation exert considerable pressure on educational systems and the labour market. Young people, who represent a growing proportion of the population, are pouring into the labour market. Their level of qualification is insufficient or unsuitable for employers’ requirements. GRET has been working to facilitate professional training for young people for over 20 years. We take a closer look at the Adeter project in Senegal, which aims to facilitate employment for young people in rural areas. 

GRET works on the “training-inclusion-company support” tryptich

In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 85% of employment is provided by micro and small enterprises in the informal sector and 90% of technical and professional training takes place in the informal sector. The majority of young people trained in this way have relatively few qualifications, and most of them, if they did attend the formal school system, left it early. Meeting the challenge of training and integration of young people in the labour market requires innovative approaches that are suited to the reality of each country. Although primary school education has improved, existing technical and professional training systems are limited in terms of capacity to take more trainees and the suitability of their offer to employers’ requirements. In particular, training offers are more restricted in rural areas, whereas these areas have significant needs in terms of population stability and agricultural and non-agricultural development.

GRET has been working for over 20 years providing support to small enterprises and professional training. It supports design of quality training suited to the local labour market, especially the informal sector, in coordination with existing formal training. The post primary level is a crucial stage in leaving the formal education system and entering the labour market for young people. In the early noughties, GRET expanded its scope of work to include socio-professional integration of young people, especially by testing the implementation of systems to help young people define their professional project and search for employment. Recently, as part of the reform of the professional training systems, GRET contributed to implementing initial qualification training in Mauritania, Benin and Senegal (at skilled or semi-skilled worker level); it developed Cap Insertion, a system to support the integration of young people in Mauritania, which in 2013 was transferred to the Ministry of employment and the Nouakchott Metropolitan Area, which delegates the service. GRET led these actions systematically in collaboration with four families of players: public institutions (central, regional, decentralised), companies & their representatives, training structures and young people & their families.

In Senegal: the challenge of qualifications and non-agricultural rural jobs

The Ministry of Professional training, Apprenticeship and Crafts (MFPAA) developed an upgraded apprenticeship strategy based on a skills approach. This strategy is now entering the operational phase. 55% of the Senegalese population is under 20 years old and approximately 650,000 young people are likely to be eligible for apprenticeship training leading to initial qualification. The first phase of the Emerging Senegal Plan (2014-2018) places agriculture at the base of sustainable economic and social development. Despite the immensity of these requirements, the Senegalese context is characterised by a poor formal training offer for audiences with little or no schooling and for para-agricultural jobs.  These jobs are not well known or recognised by the younger generations, despite the fact that they represent a major source of job creation, added value and stability for rural populations. There are very few training courses for these jobs and not many companies are developing them, whereas they could serve as role models to attract young people to these jobs.

The Senegal River Valley, the epicentre of rice production in Senegal, plays a prominent role in agriculture because of the availability of water and developed land. Upstream, during and downstream of agricultural production, para-agricultural development is the priority for development in this territory. By testing training models for initial qualification, introducing a link between training and economic prospects (jobs of the future) and encouraging consultation between players in the region, GRET – the international NGO present in Senegal since 1989 with an office in Saint-Louis since 1996 – and Enda Graf Sahel propose a solution that is in keeping with the vision of the Senegalese state as part of the Apprenticeships for the development of rural territories project (Adeter). They highlight the strong potential of the rural economy so that it can contribute sustainably to strengthening the qualifications of young people and professionals, as well as to food safety and employment. The project started in 2014 and will run until 2017. It aims to develop an innovative professional training offer to meet the needs of the Saint-Louis region in consultation with players at central, regional and decentralised level. GRET and Enda Graf Sahel decided to test two types of training: apprenticeship training in keeping with the spirit of the professional training reform to train young people, and continuous training for agricultural processors (mainly women), so that the development  of these jobs can serve as a model in the medium term to attract young people to these jobs:

  • dual training of young people for up and coming para-agricultural jobs, with alternating periods in a company and in a training centre, for which no training previously existed (manufacture of tools and material, maintenance, etc.). In October 2015, 94 young people began training in one of the five programmes designed according to the Skills approach in para-agricultural jobs. The programmes are implemented in 55 small companies and three training structures, or resource centres.
  • A continuous training/advice service for groups of women working in agrifood processing to develop their activity (management, marketing, business plans, etc.). To date, 20 groups of women working in agrifood processing have started training and 6 women’s rights counsellors from the Delta development company (SAED) were trained to support the groups. 60 members of 20 women’s groups have participated in the diagnosis of their group and drawing up of their business plan. The development of these companies should make it possible to attract young people to these growth sectors that currently lack labour.

Technical innovations and consultation: the originality of the Adeter approach

With the Adeter project, GRET and Enda Graf Sahel are taking an approach complementary to the action of the Senegalese state, which could be used to implement professional training reforms in the majority of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Conditions for success fall into two main categories: strong commitment of stakeholders (companies, institutions, young people and their parents, partners) and recognition of non-formal or informal training methods to acquire skills.

Three types of technical innovation are implemented for apprenticeship training. Individual training plans are designed based on initial skills assessments. These plans are adjusted in terms of content, level and duration to the progression of each young person and the level attained is validated at the end of the cycle. The objective is to bring together craftsmen and trainers to design and deliver certain training modules in pairs, in order to facilitate complementary approaches and better mutual knowledge of jobs and synergies in training delivery. Lastly, design and testing of curricula are completed prior to administrative  and technical validation by the Ministry, contrary to the usual practice where the curriculum is validated, then tested, then revised: this means that the validated curricula has already been tested, avoiding working with unsuitable curricula that need to be amended after validation.

The entire process is designed and implemented with all the stakeholders. Two local consultation bodies defined and monitored the design process and the process for implementing project actions. They are mobilising all stakeholders concerned in the territory and at sectoral level, especially the Operational consultation committees for apprenticeship training and for group support. Their areas of work are validated by the Ministry at each stage of the process, in order to ensure the action is included in governmental action plans and standards. The involvement of the Academic Inspectorate is strengthened as the first link in the chain of discussions with the Ministry, to guarantee the action is managed in line with the territory and its stakeholders. Frameworks for consultation have been re-implemented or created (Regional committee for the implementation of the Apprenticeship policy, Partnership Committee for Monitoring and Supervision). The Ministry of professional training, apprenticeship and crafts formally expressed its satisfaction with the quality of collaboration developed.

By maintaining the method of consultation selected, it now remains for the project to have the developed curricula validated, to continue effective implementation of training courses and to capitalise on best practices, which the government and local authorities can choose to pursue and replicate in the future.

More informations on GRET’s activities on vocational training and profesional insertion, on Adeter Project (in french)