Woman at flat knitting machine at the Wawoto Kacel Workshop in Uganda.

The relationship between economic/employment opportunities and migration

Webinar: 15th April 2021

  • Kalyango Ronald Sebba (Makerere University, School of Women and Gender studies)
  • Pierpaolo Bergamini (Italian Agency of Development Cooperation and former SINCE coordinator)
  • Caroline Njuki (ILO, Chief Technical Advisor for PROSPECTS programme).
  • Chair – Oliver Bakewell (Research & Evidence Facility)

This webinar explored efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations to expand economic and employment opportunities in the Horn of Africa and the influence of these initiatives on mobility dynamics, especially among young people.

Youth and vocational education/training and Migration in Uganda and Ethiopia

Kalyango Ronald Sebba began by presenting an overview of the REF’s research on youth vocational education/training and migration in Uganda and Ethiopia. The study showed that whereas TVET programming is proving successful in helping young people improve their prospects for livelihoods whether through employment or self-employment, the link with decisions or aspirations of migration is more complex. Employment is only one of the several reasons for mobility and migration. Ronald made two main recommendations. The first that interventions must be based on a thorough analysis of the local job market and should design TVET programmes to respond to the needs of and opportunities in the labour market. Secondly, interventions should emixplore ways to include employer and business participation in programming to ensure trainees are receiving supplementary ‘soft’ skills, in addition to technical training, and also to create ways and mechanisms of linking the private sector and involving them in TVET training.   

Facilitating the creation of employment opportunities for potential migrants and returnees, focusing on women and youth, in the most migration prone regions of Ethiopia

Pierpaolo Bergamini shared his experience from coordinating the SINCE programme in Ethiopia. He shared the approach and successes of the EUTF funded programme and addressed the question of how programmes funded to boost youth employment affect mobility and migration. The successes include: multi-stakeholder platforms for public-private-partnerships which proved to be effective for economic development and job creation; youth facilitation and mentoring during internships/apprenticeships. Pierpaolo reiterated the need for TVET and similar programmes to be attuned to the needs of the local labour market, distinguish between rural and urban market needs and opportunities, and ensure that gender considerations are accounted for in the design of these.

Economic and employment opportunities and mobility in the Horn of Africa

Caroline Njuki shared her presentation on economic and employment opportunities and mobility in the Horn of Africa. Like the other speakers, Caroline highlighted that many TVET programmes continue to perpetuate the problem of skills mismatch, where the training courses do not align with the trades and industry needs of the region. Moreover, occupational standards also remain unrevised and do not account for changes in the various sectors. Caroline also remarked on the challenges of youth entrepreneurship, an even greater problem and out of reach for most young people due to the lack of options related to access to finance and growth capital.

The way forward

Overall, the key recommendations provided by the three speakers were: to continually incorporate lessons learnt from previous programming into current and future skills-building programmes; to root programmes in rigorous labour market assessments, linking the choice of skills and training to the needs of the market and enterprises in an area or country; to involve enterprises and businesses in the area, not only at the conception or inception of such programmes but throughout its lifecycle (also as a way to provide apprenticeship opportunities for TVET graduates); and to purposefully and carefully incorporate gender considerations, especially the needs, constraints and aspirations of young women.

Causality is complicated

Caroline Njuki rounded off the webinar, concluding:

“The decision to migrate has a trigger but is often influenced by many interrelated reasons. The evidence we have shows that migration is expensive; family and friends have to be able to support those who migrate, families have to sell their assets etc. But also when people have family at a different destination that makes it even more attractive for them to migrate. If they have a skill that they think they could apply at a destination, then they will go to destination a and not b. So there are so many reasons that make people move and to specific locations… (employment) opportunities is a big one but it’s not the only one. And so trying to create these linkages, e.g. targeted support to entrepreneurship or targeted training to populations perceived to be more likely to migrate… I think we still need to do a lot more work to establish that causal relationship.”

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