Chapter 5: Africa’s youth in the labour market

Key messages

  • Africa will continue to account for a significant fraction of the global youth population. It is pro-jected that the continent’s share of the world’s youth population will grow from one-fifth, as it was in 2012, to as high as one-third by the year 2050. Current trends suggest that much of the bulge will be accounted for by countries in West, Central and East Africa.
  • Insufficient youth wage employment is primarily a demand-side problem. While reductions in fertility rates and relevant skills development are crucial for Africa to benefit from the type of demographic dividend Asia experienced, labour market demand must be a priority to improve employment levels. While skills development seems promising (as indicated by educational achievements), demand for labour quantity and quality has not been responsive enough to date. In addition, improvements in health care and in education have not significantly reduced fertility across most of Africa.
  • Youths continue to constitute the majority of the population in all countries, carrying most of the unemployment burden. However, African economies are heterogeneous, with varying demographic paths, economic structures and youth development policies. This means that youth policies should be context specific in order to achieve youth employment outcomes that are both timely and sus-tainable.