Youth vocational education/training and migration in the Horn of Africa

Across the Horn of Africa (HoA) young people comprise a significant majority of the work force. Youth unemployment and underemployment, however, remain widespread and are considered to be major drivers of migration. There are too few job opportunities for young people in the formal sector, especially for those who lack the requisite skills and competencies as a result of their incomplete or poor-quality education. The vast majority of youth who join the labour force in the HoA remain in informal employment, if they can find work at all. Unemployment rates for young women exceed that of young men due to reasons of unequal access to education and training opportunities and unequal gender roles, among others.

Interventions seeking to expand employability and entrepreneurship skills through, for example, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) aim to improve young people’s skills, strengthen the labour market, and increase their chances of finding employment. Investments in these programmes are thought to reduce incentives for young people to migrate, in particular making it less likely that they will take the high risks involved in irregular migration. Economic and employment opportunities are also presumed to make an area attractive to returning refugees and internally displaced persons.

Consequently, investments in TVET and other employability and entrepreneurship programs are sometimes interlinked with migration goals, when it is assumed that opportunities for gainful employment will curtail risky migration decisions. There is limited empirical data to test this assumption and the REF has undertaken original research to explore this further. This research brief presents the results of a study investigating the link between involvement in TVET programmes and potential for migration among youth in Uganda and Ethiopia. Based on the findings, the brief makes recommendations for organizations providing TVET services.

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Top image: Photo: John Hogg / World Bank

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