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Giving hope to young people in Guinea

Young people are ill-equipped for emerging jobs
Young people are ill-equipped for emerging jobs

Young people under 24 make up nearly two-thirds of Guinea’s population, but there is no coordinated strategy to improve their prospects of employment.

In Guinea, youth unemployment is estimated at 60% in a country where poverty now affects around 55% of the population. High youth unemployment is therefore one of the three top priorities of the Peacebuilding Commission, along with national reconciliation and security sector reform.

Though Guinea held its first legitimate presidential election in 2010, currently the country has no elected parliament and a lack of state governance is hampering development. Guinea has ministries for youth, vocational training, education and social affairs, but each deals with different aspects of youth unemployment and there is little co-ordination. And youth employment schemes operated by outside agencies such as the UN, have been accused of being “fragmented and short-term”.

Officials say that better co-ordination will be possible after legislative elections. However, a spokesperson for the Association of Child and Youth Workers (AEJT) told the news agency IRIN that young people want to know how long they must wait. Another member of AEJT said “This country’s greatest wealth is its youth – not gold or diamonds.”

Guinea has a wealth of natural resources and the country’s economy is expected to grow annually around 4–5% over the next few years. Most of this growth will come from investment by mining companies and mining-led expansion in the construction sector. A new mining code sets out that companies must prioritise the training and hiring of local Guineans, as well as working with other businesses in training young people.

Many young people don’t have the right training

However, a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) questions whether young people in Guinea will be equipped for these jobs, or for jobs in other emerging sectors such as agriculture and tourism. According to the IMF study, Guinea lacks vocational training programmes at both secondary and tertiary levels, leaving students with a lack of the “technical and scientific knowledge and competencies” required for the country’s development.

Even when young people have a degree in Guinea, it’s common to find them working in the informal sector. So for example, in the markets of the capital, Conakry, many of the sellers of clothes and shoes are university graduates. One 19 year-old told IRIN that he and his peers were told they must wait until after the legislative elections and then “corporations will come and there will be mechanisms to help us apply and get jobs”. But while he and his friends are “preparing their CVs and hoping”, they remain sceptical that the job situation will change for the better any time soon.

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