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Jobs, Skills and Education: Reducing youth unemployment in Bahir Dar

News Private sector development

Youth unemployment is a serious and growing concern in Ethiopia. The country has one of the youngest populations in the world, while unemployment is expected to reach 21% by the end of 2021, leaving many young people without a job.

That is why Cordaid Ethiopia started the Jobs, Skills and Education (JSE) pilot project in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The pilot project was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands and ran from February to July.

Digital skills were one of the trainings given through the JSE project.
Photo: Ambachew Adera

Soft skills to thrive in the work place

The project started by providing basic training for soft skills that are much needed to thrive in the workplace.

“What makes Cordaid’s project different, is that we give the soft skill training before the youth enter the job market”, says Zewdu Desalegn, Bahir Dar City’s Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs Officer. “They will have learned how to communicate and how to make decisions in a work environment and life in general.

A second phase taught the trainees digital skills, including the basic use of Microsoft Office. Kalewongel Tesfaye, lead for the private sector development programme, explains: “69 Trainees have taken the digital skills training and received their certificates through the JSE project.”

A student at one of the TVET centres.
Photo: Ambachew Adera

In the last phase, the programme provided a Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) by affiliating with different training centres. These centres were selected and certified by Bahir Dar city’s TVET bureau based on the quality of their training and reputation.

The training included textile and garment, fashion design, cooking and food preparation, men’s hairdressing, soap and sanitary materials production and electronics maintenance. “These courses will give the participants more options. They have been trained based on their inherent preferences. That is one of the reasons why this was a successful project”, says Betelihem Manaye, the project officer of JSE in Bahir Dar.

Cordaid has also facilitated apprenticeship opportunities for trainees, through different local small and medium enterprises.

Results and Takeaways

On July 7, the JSE team has presented its results and the takeaways from the pilot project. 299 trainees participated in the 5-month project throughout its various phases.

His Excellency Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ethiopia, Thijs Woudstra, said: “I am delighted that we created a platform where young people can get an education and seek jobs in Bahir Dar.”

His Excellency Woudstra visited the TVET centres
Photo: Ambachew Adera

The owners of the training centres have voiced their gratitude for the project’s impact. “I remember rejecting the proposal at first. I did not think it was feasible. But what I have witnessed in the last five months, has been very encouraging. I am happy that I changed my mind and joined the project as a trainer” – Mulugeta Wuletaw, owner of a junior garment and fashion design training centre.

Samuel Tenna, Cordaid Ethiopia’s head of programmes , hailed the JSE project by saying: “Through different pieces of training we have enabled the unemployed youth to be ready to enter the job market. This project has yielded encouraging results and allowed us to see promising opportunities in the job creation process.”

Scale Up Needed

With a running time of only 5 months, the pilot project was relatively short. The results, however, have been impressive. As the project comes to a close, stakeholders have been emphasizing the need for continuation. “To meaningfully curb the problem of youth unemployment, the JSE project must be sustained and scaled up”, Samuel Tenna iterated. “In the region, there are sectors, like the textile sector, the agricultural sector and the small microenterprises, that are booming. All these sectors need sufficient human capital.”

His Excellency Woudstra agrees: “Our small investment in the JSE pilot project must be a start for a sustainable self-rotating scheme. A scheme where young people can come to the city, get educated and companies are very keen to hire them.”