Alusine, an entrepreneur outside his shop in Sierra Leone.

Education must change for young people’s working futures

New research co-led by 12 young researchers and Restless Development shows the majority of young people surveyed do not feel their education prepares them for work. The findings are set against a backdrop of severe disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting 90% of students globally.*

It’s Our Future surveyed more than 1000 young people from Sahel, MENA and East and Horn of Africa.

Education and Living

We support young people to have their say on their education and the future world of work.

The report comes as a Global Goals target on youth employment (8.6) – which seeks to significantly reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training by 2020 – has not been met.

Key findings.

  • When asked where covid was having the biggest impact on their lives, young respondents said that their education ranked highest at 39%.
  • There is a significant gap between skills acquired during education and skills needed in the job market. Just 2 in 5 felt their education had prepared them “well” or “very well” for available jobs.
  • The “digital divide” is leaving some young people behind – only 29% of young people agreed or strongly agreed that their education supported them to harness technology for their future career path.
  • Entrepreneurship is important to young people –  41.6% of young people would want to run their own businesses compared to 12% who said they wanted a formal job. However barriers like the lack of access to capital and the lack of training on business and finance prevent entrepreneurship.
  • At the same time, the pandemic has made young people more politically engaged, with half of those surveyed stating they are more passionate about creating change at the micro level – among peers and within school or workplaces – and they are eager to engage with governments on policies and major decisions that impact them, such as education and work.

Taibat, one of the youth researchers from Nigeria, said:

“One of the key principles emerging from our research is to ensure that the education system responds to changes in job market demand, by providing opportunities to train young people in key skills to ensure young people’s employability.” 

It’s Our Future, Youth at Heart principles:

The It’s Our Future research has resulted in three Youth at Heart Principles – recommendations for governments, civil society, private and public sector, bi- and multilaterals and knowledge institutions to work in partnership with young people and to invest in the prospects of young people so that they can build a better world.

  • Build a more relevant, sustainable and effective enabling environment for education and work systems for young people, that recognise their rights and will.
  • Involve young people at all levels in decision making processes that will affect their lives.
  • Partner with young people to build a better, more resilient world for all generations.

Read the full Youth at Heart Principles here.

Primrose Manyalo, Restless Development, said:

“In the region we surveyed, around 90% of young students have had their education disrupted, potentially reversing years of progress, and we are on the brink of the most severe recession in recent memory. With the disruptions caused by the pandemic, we are in danger of missing our targets on youth unemployment. 

“If we are to build a better world from this pandemic, young people need fulfilling jobs that help them make a decent life for themselves and continue to their communities – that starts with making sure their education works for their working lives.”

It’s Our Future

Download the full report.
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