It is common to see the bottom poor struggle through basic primary and secondary education. High dropout levels are recorded, especially when learning is not subsidised or provided free of charge by the government. This has led to a rise in the number of unemployed youth in Africa today who lack the market-oriented and relevant skills to earn a living from jobs in the formal sector. Underemployment is also growing steadily with youth opting to search for informal jobs to make as much money as possible to provide for themselves and their families. Taking up casual employment in the informal sector is not sustainable as these opportunities are hard to come by and compensation is very little – averaging CHF 2 daily. In many cases, African societies are left with the burden of dealing with idle youth who will do whatever they can to survive, often engaging in crime.
Consequently, Swisscontact identified the need to sustainably close this skills gap and empower vulnerable youth through vocational training. Since inception 60 years ago, we have been engaged in the design and implementation of several sustainable projects. Together with our local partners, we implement comprehensive vocational training programmes. We support local institutions to build quality education systems while helping selected providers to improve the quality of their training courses. By involving the private sector, we are able to develop concepts for hands-on, apprenticeship-based vocational training. We operate on the premise that skills development goes beyond the conventional understanding of vocational training and includes every kind of learning that extends the ability of people to take control of their lives and increase their chances of a sustainable livelihood.