INCREASING YOUTH EMPLOYABILITY AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTORPublished: Apr 29, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Ethiopia is currently struggling with high unemployment, especially among young people. Around seventy percent of Ethiopians under the age of thirty are formally unemployed, especially women. As a result, overall unemployment may soon reach twenty-two percent. The main reasons for the high rate of unemployment include a lack of necessary skills, few job opportunities, and limited access to business opportunities.
Therefore, the Czech AID project implemented by People in Need in Ethiopia aims to improve the availability and quality of local technical and vocational training schools and strengthen market linkages between actors in the agro-processing value chain.
The project, titled ‘Promoting Youth Employment and Employability in the Agricultural Sector, SNNPR, Ethiopia’, focuses on strengthening the technical, pedagogical, and operational capacities of four selected TVET colleges - Aleta Wondo TVET college, Daye TVET College, Yirgacheffe College and Wollayita Soddo Polytechnic College. The project's main focus is to provide short-term training programmes in the agro-processing industry. In addition, the project will enhance the managerial, financial, and business skills of local micro and small enterprises and improve the linkages between local actors in the agro-processing value chain by establishing a platform for public-private partnerships to establish better collaboration between its actors.
In addition to students and graduates of the schools mentioned above, another target group of the project is also micro and small enterprises, agro-industrial parks, and small farmers. The final beneficiaries of the project are communities and households in the three target zones — Sidama, Wolayita and Gedeo. "The first action of the project was to hold a launch workshop and establish a steering committee. After conducting a comprehensive assessment of the participating schools and developing an action plan, we prepared a short-term training curriculum tailored to each district, and equipped the schools with the relevant equipment necessary for practical training," says project coordinator Jana Vyhnálková from People in Need, adding: "I see the biggest benefit of the project in the connection between companies and schools. School directors are now meeting with companies, discussing what positions companies have vacant and what types of jobs are in demand on the market. So our students will have work experience directly in companies as part of our newly identified courses, which hugely increases their chances of finding employment there afterwards."
Representatives of companies were also involved in developing the course curricula. Some participated in the training of trainers— that is, the training of the secondary school teachers who now run the courses. In mid-November last year, the first 100 students (25 students in 4 schools) started their courses. The courses are three-month-long (2 courses per school) and are attended mostly by students who have already completed standard teaching training but have not yet found employment. The courses focus on, for example, coffee roasting or avocado processing. "In November, I visited the agri-business park in Yirgalem, which houses two large coffee and avocado processing companies— specifically oil pressing, among others. In a few weeks, when the avocado harvesting season starts in the region, our students will be involved in this company. Among other things, they will be checking the quality of the avocados used and the resulting oil, which is exported, for example, to the Netherlands," adds Jana Vyhnálková.
Thanks to the training, the management, financial and business skills of thirty local micro and small enterprises, including bakeries, milk processing companies, etc., have been improved. In addition to the campaign to promote agricultural production, a campaign to prevent the spread of infection related to the Covid-19 pandemic was also carried out in view of the current situation.
"As one of the outputs of the project, which aims to make the value chain actors in agro-processing improve their linkages, we have set up regular meetings of the local agro-processing platform for public-private partnership. Companies meet with representatives of schools and local authorities to help schools better understand market needs or to arrange practical training for students in companies, which of course then gives students a better chance of getting a foothold in the labour market after their studies. The purpose of these meetings is to improve cooperation, facilitate job creation and promote a suitable working environment," adds Jana Vyhnálková. Last year, there was also a campaign to raise young people's awareness of available training and job opportunities in the agro-processing industry.