In sub-Saharan Africa, about 30 million children are still missing out on primary school and 22 million teenagers are out of secondary school, missing out on vital skills for future employment. In 2010 in South Africa, almost nine out of ten young people were unemployed, with worse rates for those with less than a secondary education.
In Ghana in 2008, around one-half of young women and one-third of young men could not read a sentence even though they had spent six years in school.
Poor young populations, urban and rural, are the most in need of skills training. In urban areas, the youth population is larger than it has ever been and growing. Today, two thirds of Africa’s urban population live in slums where a lack of skills can confine young people to a life of subsistence work. However, the majority of the poor and least educated live in rural areas. In Cameroon, young people living in rural areas with no schooling are two and half times more likely to be earning $1.25 per day or less than those who have completed secondary education.
Young poor African farmers struggle to make a living. The average size of 80% of African farms is less than 2 hectares. Vulnerable to climate change, many are in desperate need of even the most basic skills to protect their livelihoods. Those not in farmwork urgently need training in business and marketing to find new opportunities and reduce the obligation of migrating to cities in search of a job.
In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, traditional apprenticeships are the main type of skills training for those not formally employed. In Senegal, young people were more than 40 times more likely to be trained through this route than in formal technical and vocational schooling. These apprenticeships need to be open to all: in Ghana, the poorest and least educated have a much slimmer chance of getting an apprenticeship while in Tanzania apprenticeships are dominated by men.