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Cushioning school-to-job transition
Inauguration event of the Youth Employability Services center in Bahirdar

Cushioning school-to-job transition

Yeshihasab Shiferaw, 23, has been unemployed since graduating from Gondar University in July 2017. Even though she graduated in Tourism Management she has not been able to get a job in that field. She is one of the hopeful fresh graduates registering at the Youth Employability Services center in Ginbot 20 Sub-city, Bahirdar.

Youth Employability Services (YES) is an employment center for the thousands of unemployed young people in the city of Bahirdar. Inaugurated on June 19, YES is an initiative of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The center’s goal is to improve the employability of youth by providing career guidance, soft skill trainings and access to labor market information as well as connecting employers with potential employees. An assessment performed by the ILO found that there is a gap in school-to-work transitions where graduates have no knowledge of the market and do not know how to present themselves to employers.

YES is a joint initiative with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA), under the project ‘Addressing Root Causes of Migration in Ethiopia’ in the Stemming Irregular Migration in Northern and Central Ethiopia (SINCE) program, a program being implemented by the Italian Embassy and funded by the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa.

George Okutho, Director of ILO Country Office for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, pointed out that 70% of Ethiopia’s population is under 30 and emphasized that many are compelled to migrate in the absence of job opportunities. YES center emerges from ILO’s deduction that unemployment is a strong push factor to irregular migration. Cross-border migration in search of improved economic opportunities is rising. Young Ethiopians are migrating to Sudan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, USA, Canada and western European countries in pursuit of better lives.

Pierpaolo Bergamini, SINCE Program Coordinator of the Embassy of Italy, estimated 10,000 people will be direct beneficiaries of this YES center. With 3 million youths entering the job market every year, the YES center expects to register 800 job seekers, 500 vacancies, 30 active employers and one large job fair within the following year.

Yeshihasab has not been able to find a job in the tourism management sector and has settled as a bank messenger for the past 3 months. But she is one of the lucky ones. In a report summary on the socio-economic assessment of migration conducted by ILO, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat of the Horn of Africa and Yemen, between 2008 and 2016, more than 365,000 migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Yemen of which more than 80% were Ethiopians. Unemployment is a large factor in this migration.

According to ILO’s assessment, Bahirdar, Amhara is one of five high migration zones in the country including Tigray, Southern, Oromia and certain parts of Addis Ababa. Through the YES center, says Ruchika Bahl, ILO Technical Advisor irregular migration, both internally and externally, will be greatly reduced. A significant result of irregular migration is that most migrants are not fully informed of the risks involved in the process, only thinking of possible rewards. “Nobody wants to stay. Everybody wants to go away. Young people must participate in the local market. We want to motivate youngsters to stay and work in the country,” says Bahl.

By increasing the employability of job seekers by training councilors and bringing career experts in partnership with MoLSA, Technical and Vocational Educational Institutions and various government institutions, this YES center hopes to attract employers in the private sector to open their doors to the youth of Bahirdar. Ayalu Admass, program coordinator, says, “This new approach will address the skill and information gap among potential migrants while simultaneously enhancing the responsibility of employers. It will enhance coordination mechanisms on youth employment and curb irregular migration.”

With the ongoing difficulties of migrants attempting to cross to Europe and the dangers of illegal entry and residence in foreign countries, this employability center hopes to discourage young people from undergoing this harsh trip. Yeshihasab and many like her are counting on it.