“Let the youth be the real winner.”

Review Seminar Partnership for Sustainable Youth Employment

On November 22nd, 2019, the seminar Partnerships for Sustainable Youth Employment took place in celebration of the 15 year long partnership between VSO and Randstad. It was the perfect moment to look back and to look ahead.  Jacques van den Broek (CEO Randstad) and Erik Ackerman (director of VSO) discussed the opportunities and challenges in the field of African employment.

The seminar provided a platform for discussion and strategizing. How do we ensure a future-proof approach to employment in Africa? Under the energetic guidance of moderator Marina Diboma, Irene Bitumbe (VSO), Jacques Zeelen (University of Groningen), Patrick Obonyo (IKEA Foundation), Annemarie Muntz (Randstad) and Tijmen Rooseboom (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), discussed this topic. The room joined the discussion, with representatives from the business community, the government, knowledge institutes and NGOs.

Jacques Zeelen: “There are 800 tractors in northern Uganda. 400 of them are broken. Why can’t anyone repair them?”

The importance of partnerships

Randstad and VSO consider partnerships essential to prepare the youth of African for jobs of the future. Labour market research, development of soft skills, career guidance, job matching and lifelong learning are important components of this solution. Currently, there is a mismatch between the skills offered and the skills needed. To bridge this gap, public authorities, educational institutions, the private sector and NGOs need to work together. Those present in the room completely agreed with this.

Patrick Obonyo: “A partnership should not be a win-win between the partners, but a win-win-win. How do you maximise the results for vulnerable youth? Let the youth be the real winner.”

Another topic of discussion concerned decent work. What does this mean? Employment in Africa is largely in the informal sector. Are these decent jobs? The conclusion was that decent work is not so much about work in the formal sector, but about working conditions.

Equal opportunities

Another important condition for successful youth employment is inclusiveness. Irene Bitumbe represented the voice of youth from Africa. She said it is the dream of every young person to get a diploma. Also, inclusiveness means equal opportunities for men and women. Women, for example, have much less access to digital resources. Is there a mobile phone available in the house? Then it belongs to the man. Programmes that want to help women into work must also take this local context into account.

Irene Bitumbe: “They all want to become Bill Gates if you ask them. But no one knows how to do it.”

For a stable and sustainable development in the future of employment in Africa, it is necessary that economic growth is inclusive. The interests of youth, and specifically the interests of women, must be at the heart of policy and measures. In order to create enough jobs, we need a enabling policy environment to stimulate investment in the African continent.

Challenge Fund for Youth Employment

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment – launched at the seminar – in this respect, offers plenty of opportunities. The fund focuses on creating prospects for 200,000 women and men in Africa and the Middle East by investing in decent work and income. The fund is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and runs until 2025. Palladium, Randstad and VSO will manage the fund.

More information about the fund:  www.fundforyouthemployment.nl


Presentations and more information

Irene Bitumbe (VSO) worked with 148 local volunteers in three regions on an interactive theatre project to break taboos, educate and inform young people. During the seminar she represented the voice of the youth of Africa.

Annemarie Muntz (Randstad) examined the changing world of work and the new job opportunities that lie ahead.

Prof. dr. Jacques Zeelen (Globalisation Studies Groningen and Gulu University in Uganda) gave a presentation about the obstacles and perspectives for African Youth, dealing with education and work.

Watch the video “Godfrey and Hamida” about the work of Randstad and VSO.

Photo’s: Jasper Kasbergen