Youth employability in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries sector

Employabilité des jeunes

Young people under the age of 30 account for over 60% of the regional population. If we consider the 18-34 age group, in 2017, West Africa had approximately 112 million young people, accounting for 30.06% of the total population, with 50.81% being young men and 49.19% young women.

One of the major problems related to this "youth" component of the region is that of employability on one hand, and youth unemployment on the other. Over three million (3,000,000) young people enter the labour market every year, but only nine hundred thousand (900,000) manage to find jobs that are more or less decent-paying.

In response to this challenge, ECOWAS has clearly expressed its concern for youth integration through the orientations of the Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP). The second-generation Regional plan for agricultural investment, food security, and nutrition (PRIASAN) devotes a major action plan that can generate jobs for young people.

The youth employability theme aims to create conditions that facilitate the retention and socio-professional integration of young people in the agro-sylvo-pastoral, fisheries, and agri-food value chains in order to reduce underemployment, unemployment among the workforce, minimize rural exodus, and uncontrolled migration.

The theme is being implemented through the adoption of a strategy to support youth employability in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries sector within the ECOWAS space. This strategy is based on priority investment programs such as the Priority investment program in the agro-sylvo-pastoral and fisheries sector and the Regional offensive for the promotion of local milk value chains. In addition to these priority programs, there are twelve (12) mobilisation programs led by regional professional organizations.

The theme contributes to Axis 2, "Promoting contractual, inclusive, and competitive agricultural and agri-food value chains, oriented towards regional and international demand, and in line with a regional market integration perspective," and Axis 3, "Improving access to food, nutrition, and resilience of vulnerable populations" of the ECOWAP 2025 Strategic Orientation Framework.The implementation of these priority programs has begun with the funding of 23 initiatives to promote youth employment in local milk value chains in West Africa and Chad.
The implementing actors are ECOWAS, member States, and local organizations working in the field of youth employment. Other initiatives are also underway to support the theme. 

These include the FAO youth employment program in the sub-region, the youth employment initiatives on technologies generated by the Centers of specialization implemented by CORAF. The financial partners are the Swiss Confederation (SDC) and the Agence Française dee Développement (AFD).