Education and Youth employment in Sub-Sahara Africa: linkages and policy responses

by ALTMAN, M., VOLKER, S. & RAMA, N., 2013
"Human Sciences Research Council paper presented to the African Economic Research Consortium workshop on Youth and Unemployment, Kigali, Rwanda, March 21-22, 2013"

Young people in Africa find it increasingly difficult to transition into employment. Governments acknowledge the challenge of youth unemployment and underemployment and are looking for appropriate interventions. Investment in education is one of the main policy tools for addressing poverty and promoting economic growth. However, African countries grapple with a range of challenges. Many are near the frontier of how much they can spend on education, but are not achieving the desired outcomes. One aspect of this problem lies in the design of the education system and in resource allocation and incentives within each level. Another aspect relates to the allocation of resources across the different tiers – primary, secondary academic, secondary vocational, and various types of tertiary education. Then there is the question of private incentives – do individuals and households understand the returns to education and is education accessible to them? What are the hiring practices of firms? Why does Africa especially seem to have very slow school-to-work transitions? Are firms incentivised to train? Altman, Schoer and Rama review the literature on the link between education and employment and the implications for policy. They assess employment, unemployment and educational attainment in Africa, and then review issues related to incentives for individuals and firms. The next section considers challenges to strengthening the link between employment and education. The paper concludes with thinking on policy responses