Youth Employment in Africa

Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent in the world. By 2030, the number of young people in the African labour force will increase to 375 million. According to the International Monetary Fund, population growth on the continent means that by 2035, there will be more young Africans entering the workforce each year than in the rest of the world combined.

There is a significant gap between the number of young people seeking work and the limited employment opportunities available to them. Moreover, there is a mismatch between the skills of young people entering the workforce and the needs of employers.

Young Africa Works & Employability Initiatives

Without action, many young people will face challenges finding employment to improve their livelihoods.

The Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy aims to improve youth unemployment in Africa by equipping young women and men with the skills and knowledge they need to access jobs or grow businesses, access financial services, and expand the economic opportunities that are available to them.

Youth Forward initiative

The Youth Forward initiative links young people to quality employment or entrepreneurship opportunities in the agricultural and construction sectors in Ghana and Uganda. This five-year partnership led by Mastercard Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, Global Communities, Solidaridad, NCBA CLUSA, and GOAL will reach more than 200,000 economically disadvantaged youth aged 15–24. The initiative uses an approach that combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, internships, and access to financial services to help young people better their lives, transition to sustainable livelihoods, and contribute to social and economic change.

Youth Forward demonstrates how working with partners from multiple sectors can lead to greater impact and influence policymakers and others to adopt and support successful youth employment and entrepreneurship models.

Youth Think Tank

The Youth Think Tank (YTT) is a research group made up of young people from the Foundation’s networks. In partnership with Restless Development, it trains and mentors young people to conduct research, collect evidence, and document youth needs, challenges, and aspirations.
Each year, a new cohort conducts research in their communities and makes recommendations based on their findings. Research is focused on key issues that affect youth. The YTT was launched in 2012, and since then, it has grown to 28 researchers from seven countries across the continent.


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