The growing problem of youth unemployment and underemployment is one of the main socio-economic development concerns of most African governments.
Without job-related skills, youth and adults cannot benefit from the employ-ment opportunities that offer a decent income.
In many countries, one of the key elements of development strategies is to support young people to acquire professional skills through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes. This approach also helps to promote entrepreneurship.
Wars, conflicts and other natural disasters have also destroyed the provision of TVET systems in countries in conflict or post-conflict situations, which unfortu-nately are too many on the continent. Although there are significant positive efforts to strengthen TVET, and entrepreneurship training, TVET systems in many countries are characterized by under-resourced, obsolete or damaged infrastructure; inadequate inter-sectoral linkages; lack of Labour management Information Systems; lim-ited curricula and inadequate human resources. These situations are the conse-quences of inadequate human resources due to the death or displacement of experi-enced instructors and other workers who are very often not replaced.
It was in this context that the African Union Commission (AUC), in 2007, developed a continental strategy to revitalize TVET in Africa, through the im-plementa-tion of the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa 2006- 2015. At the time of drawing lessons from the mid-point assessment of the 2007 strategy, the need was felt to review it and redefine our vision of TVET in order to improve its visibility so that it can better play the role assigned to it.
Africa certainly has high economic growth rates, but paradoxically this growth does not translate into jobs, and unemployment rates are not falling. The conse-quence is that African economies are struggling to cope with the difficult task of pro-viding decent jobs for the millions of new entrants to the labour market estimated at about 10 million each year.
The increasing number of poorly educated, unskilled, unemployed and under-employed young people every day becomes a threat to the stability of countries and therefore to their development. It is estimated that almost 100 million young men and women in Africa, out of a total population of about 200 million young people, are illiterate and unemployed or in low-paid jobs (UNESCO, 2012). Consequently, the qual-ity of the workforce remains low and often inadequate.
In the formal industrial sector, declining employment opportunities remains a concern and work in this area is less than 10% of total employment in most
African countries (Filmer et al., 2014). The vast majority of the workforce is found in the ser-vices and agricultural sectors.
This workforce distribution pattern must be considered when developing national policies, TVET strategies and training programmes.