Khartoum, Thursday, March 1, 2018: Ministers responsible for gender and social affairs have adopted the draft COMESA Youth Internship and Volunteer Programme. This was done during their 10th annual meeting that took place in Sudan, 28 February -1 March 2018.
The implementation of the program now awaits endorsement by the COMESA Council of Ministers, during the forthcoming Summit of Heads of State and Government in Burundi.
The youth programme was developed in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers. It seeks to increase youth employment, particularly for young women and men graduates, who join the labour market every year. It is expected to raise youth employability through practical skills transfer/building; provide job opportunities (in key economic sectors) through the provision of information and facilitation of networks and resolve the mismatch between labour market demands and the supply of qualified personnel from institutions of higher education.
According to the United Nations, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa in 2015 representing almost 20% of Africa’s population, making up one fifth of the world’s youth population. This presents a huge opportunity for the program to empower the continent’s youthful population and enhance their contribution towards economic development.
The programme will be piloted in four countries: Comoros, Egypt, Ethiopia and Zambia, before it is replicated in other Member States.
In Comoros, the priority areas for the programme are: establishment of a national internship and volunteer programme mechanism; partnership building with the private sector and Small and Medium Enterprises for the placements; awareness creation and mobilization of the youth; and institutionalising the volunteer and internship programme
In Egypt, the programme will focus on the establishment of a national internship and volunteer programme mechanism, partnership with the private sector, development of labour market policies that will facilitate the provision of labour market information on internship standards and opportunities, development of a national coordination structure and placement of young graduates, especially women, in the social enterprises and other identified priority social sectors.
In Ethiopia, the programme will focus on the development and operationalising a government-led youth internship programme in partnership with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders, development of policy and regulatory operational frameworks to guide implementation, strengthening existing internship/apprenticeship programmes, and developing and operationalising a volunteer corps.
In Zambia, the priority areas for the programme are: development and operationalising a government-led youth internship programme in partnership with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders; creation of feedback links between the labour market and education and training institutions for the creation on labour needs-relevant curricula, and development of a national volunteer corps that responds to the placement of young graduates, especially women, in priority sector programmes particularly in the Small and Medium Enterprise like in the ICT sector.
Ministers and their representatives from Malawi, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia attended the meeting.