The International Youth Foundation (IYF) has released a new Rockefeller Foundation-commissioned report, Analysis of ICT-Enabled Youth Employment in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. The study, which identifies promising growth sectors and existing training gaps in these three countries, offers key practical insights for shaping effective job initiatives as part of IYF’s continued efforts to provide young people with relevant skills training for meaningful employment.

Mindful of the particular context for each country, the IYF report identified several cross-cutting themes important to the design of youth employment initiatives. First, basic information and communication technology (ICT) skills are in-demand across many promising sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, retail, and hospitality. The report goes on to identify the need to promote ICT opportunities for women in ways that increase their access to education and healthcare.

Employers interviewed in all three countries also emphasized the importance of young employees possessing life skills such as teamwork, a good work ethic, and the ability to problem-solve. This finding provides further support for the need to expand life skills training to reach more youth in the region through initiatives such as Passport to Success®, IYF’s life skills program that has been adapted for local use in more than 30 countries.

One of the more interesting aspects of the one-year study is that young people interviewed continually expressed a clear preference to be self-employed. Entrepreneurship therefore should become (if it is not already) a fundamental element of any youth-focused development effort to build livelihoods for African youth. Programs like Build Your Business, a joint initiative of Microsoft and IYF, are in demand and needed by Africa’s young people.

According to Bill Reese, IYF President and CEO, “The knowledge gained from this report reaffirms the direction and critical nature not only for our work at IYF, but for all youth development organizations who are working so hard to ensure that Africa’s young men and women are prepared for and can grow in jobs in promising fields. We are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for supporting this important research.”