Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

FutureWise: Preparing a generation of African youth for work

Lead Organization

Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

Montréal, Québec, Canada

http://www.auf.org/a-propos/contact-2

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Project Summary

The youth unemployment crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa represents a failure to capitalise on one of the continent’s greatest potentials for economic development: a growing population of dynamic, ambitious youth, in search of training and opportunity. The FutureWise global partnership is uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role in addressing youth unemployment across the African continent by enabling higher education institutions (HEIs) to equip young people for a rapidly changing labour market and global knowledge economy.FutureWise will harness existing knowledge and know-how at HEIs around the globe to enable their counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa to innovate, expand and improve the delivery of student entrepreneurship, experiential learning, skills development and professional training.African youth will build industry-relevant skills and identify as business and job creators. Business and industry will benefit from a pool of dynamic recruits with adaptable and relevant skillsets, capable of driving new growth, and generating further jobs.

Problem Statement

By 2050 more than half the world's population under the age of 24 will live and be educated in sub-Saharan Africa. 16M African youth already face unemployment, and this number is growing rapidly.High rates of youth unemployment and underemployment are creating political and socio-economic challenges across Africa. They are a direct cause of poverty and poor quality of life, clandestine migration, and political instability. More importantly, they represent a failure to capitalise on one of the continent’s greatest potentials for economic growth: a growing population of dynamic, ambitious youth, in search of training, mentoring, and opportunity. HEIs can play a pivotal role in addressing this crisis, educating the continent’s brightest minds and future leaders. However, higher education in Africa is underdeveloped, the result of low prioritisation and investment, and women are severely underrepresented. HEIs often operate in isolation from their surrounding ecosystems.Many African graduates remain unemployed, while shortages of skilled labour persist in many sectors, particularly science and technology. Employers complain that new graduates do not have the ‘power’ skills needed to succeed in the workplace: critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and emotional intelligence. Many youth continue to consider higher education as a guarantee of government employment, rather than a pathway to creating economic opportunities and jobs.African HEIs lack the data, pedagogy, training, investment and links to the private sector they need to empower youth to create employment opportunities and succeed in the jobs of the future. These are the leverage points that will have the biggest impact.

Solution Overview

HEIs have a pivotal role to play in tackling the youth unemployment crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa by preparing young people for a rapidly changing labour market and global knowledge economy. FutureWise will harness existing knowledge and know-how from experienced universities to enable African HEIs to expand and improve their delivery of experiential learning, skills development, and professional and entrepreneurship training.FutureWise will create a measurable shift at 50 universities in at least 15 countries in all regions of sub-Saharan Africa over a 5-year period. This transformation will be signaled by:-increased willingness to pilot new ideas;-expanded program offerings, particularly STEM fields;-new modes of on-line and in-classroom teaching;-experiential learning and entrepreneurship opportunities, and meaningful work-integrated learning experiences;-connectedness with the private and non-profit sectors;-access to university spaces and resources by the broader community, particularly vulnerable youth and women;-structures that facilitate crossing disciplinary boundaries; and-transparent culture of decision-making.A graduate destinations survey will allow FutureWise to measure progress by tracking employment and job creation outcomes of students involved in project initiatives for the fist time. By the end of five years HEIs will have significantly improved their capacity to prepare students for work and to navigate the unprecedented changes facing African societies. Young people with industry-relevant skills and qualifications will identify as business and jobs creators, generating employment for themselves and others. Businesses will benefit from a pool of recruits with well-rounded, adaptable and relevant skillsets who can drive business growth, creating further jobs.

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