July 20, 2023 – Youth unemployment is a significant problem in Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian 2021 Labour Force and Migration survey, the country’s unemployment rate was eight percent as of August 2021. The national unemployment rate for women (11.7 percent) is double that of men (5.0 percent). Youth unemployment (among those aged 15-29) is 7.7 percent. Unemployment is a predominant problem in urban areas (17.9 percent), significantly higher than in rural areas. Fulfilling youth engagement has been limited, with youth assets and agency development remaining underdeveloped, particularly for young women.
Nurturing youth leadership and participation through a community service approach is believed to be one way to mend a community’s social fabric and increase young people’s engagement in dignified and fulfilling work.
Recently, the Mastercard Foundation joined hands with the Youth Network for Sustainable Development (YNSD) and the John Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) to enable 500,000 young people to attend community service activities and gain job preparedness skills under the new project, Community Service as a Pathway to Work (CSPW), a five-year partnership between the three organizations.
The CSPW project will be active in 150 woredas (districts) and city administrations across five regions of Ethiopia, 29 of which will be in post-conflict areas. CCP and YNSD will design and test a community service approach that develops much-needed leadership and business development skills and link young people with existing job training and access to finance opportunities identified and coordinated through the project’s advocacy and capacity-strengthening activities with government, civic, and private sector actors.
This strategic partnership pairs a global organization with an excellent track record in Social and Behavior Change (SBC) and systems strengthening with a well-established network of local youth organizations with rich youth mobilization and advocacy experience.
Of the 500,000 young people completing training and community service, YNSD and the John Hopkins Center for Communication Programs aim to enable at least 200,000 young people to find dignified and fulfilling jobs in public or private sectors or create their businesses over the next five years. The $48 million partnership includes at least $15 million in microfinancing that young people can apply for to get their newly established enterprises off the ground.
The partnership plans to motivate and capacitate the young people through various tailored training to help them identify community needs and become part of the solution during their transition to work. It will also strengthen systems and institutions across the board and enable the creation, improvement, and implementation of policies and directives that support community service and youth-focused initiatives.
Upon graduating from the community service programs, the young people will be supported to transition to work through linkages to job matching initiatives (for wage employment) and provision of skills training in business development, technical skills, and access to finance opportunities (for self-employment).
YNSD is a local umbrella of over 160 youth-centred organizations and associations with extensive experience in youth mobilization and the potential for broader youth reach through its member network and beyond. It has formed a strategic partnership with key stakeholders working in the ecosystem and has experience in policy and advocacy work.
“Transforming the life of a single youth will have its ripple effect. Imagine what we can achieve when we train, empower, and meaningfully engage 500,000 young people. The CSPW program is the key to answering this question,” noted Esayas Alemayehu, YNSD Executive Director.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) is a leader in social and behaviour change communication for more than 35 years and leads dozens of programs worldwide. CCP, with its rich experience in community mobilization, is known for its creativity, innovation, and comprehensive approach to understanding people and promoting a mindset shift. CCP has a large network of local, community-based, and international partners, and extensive geographic coverage across Ethiopia.
“The CSPW initiative is an exciting chance to support Ethiopian youth in gaining key skills to help them better serve their communities, create economic opportunities, and secure a more stable and dignified future for them and their families. Through this initiative, we will engage young people as agents of change who are full of potential,” said Debora Freitas López, CCP’s Executive Director.
CCP Project Director Betemariam Alemu added that “the unemployment rate among Ethiopian youth is 26 percent. The economy is growing, but because of high population growth, the labour force cannot absorb the countless number of people graduating from colleges. That’s why one focus will be on promoting entrepreneurship and helping young people and their communities envision what kinds of needs might be met by new businesses they can start.”
The initiative will also be undertaken in post-conflict areas (19 percent) to reestablish the social fabric and build social cohesion while influencing economic growth and youth employment prospects.
The program will complement the recently announced MESMER initiative, which aims to create 410,800 jobs by supporting and building the recovery and resilience of 72,200 informal, start-up, and formal micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through access to finance, business development, and psychosocial support services in conflict-affected areas.
The CSPW program’s aims mirror that of the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy in Ethiopia, which is being implemented to enable 10 million young people, especially young women (70 percent), to secure employment they see as dignified and fulfilling. Using youth employment as a critical measure of socioeconomic progress, the strategy aims to help millions find a pathway out of poverty.
In alignment with the Mastercard Foundation Ethiopia country roadmap, the CSPW program partnership will enable direct job opportunities for 200,000 young people through community service, hands-on skills, tailored training, access to finance and business development services, and linkage with employment opportunities.
“This partnership is an example of the Foundation’s belief in young people and their potential to shape their future and their communities if they are guided and given opportunities to contribute. Community Service as a Pathway to Work will equip young women and men with tailored skills that will enable them to identify problems, co-create solutions, implement, and measure planned activities, celebrate their achievements, and compile insights from their journey. We hope this opportunity will deepen their understanding of their community and help them examine and develop perspectives about work, skills, and purpose. Through the process, young people will strengthen the culture of giveback, develop partnerships, widen their network, and earn respect from their communities. We also hope that this partnership will strengthen the ability of local youth-led organizations to design impactful programs and effectively implement them,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director for Ethiopia.
For further information, please contact:
Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP)
Stephanie Desmon, Director of PR and Communications, CCP
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Network for Sustainable Development (YNSD)
Esayas Alemayehu, Executive Director
Simret Yasabu: Lead, Program Communications, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 988805766