Information and Communication Technologies for Youth Employment in Yaoundé II
The program intends to improve youth employement by the use of new technologies in a neighborhood of Yaoundé
The project “Information and Communication Technologies for Youth Employment in Yaoundé II” aims at improving the economic situation of young people in this neighborhood, by increasing their employability and their capacity to find a job through crosscutting actions in the fields of education, economic development, new technologies, and participation. First, a survey identified what kind of economic activities were more likely to employ young people in the city and potential employers. New technological trainings were then organized, allowing more than 600 young people to take part in the end. The core of the session’s program was teaching them how to use a computer and to become familiar with the internet in order to find a job or to create their own activity. Throughout this process, young people could benefit from advice, like learning how to write a resume. Moreover young people lacking professional’s skills could be easily identified and oriented to a training center in the city. Furthermore, they have been involved in the elaboration process of a Communal Integration Plan during which they could give their opinion, what contributed to their empowerment.
Background and objectives
The district of Yaoundé II is one of the seven administrative divisions of Yaoundé with a population estimated at 280,000 inhabitants in 2008. Slightly more than half of the population is under 35 years old. Even if numerous economic activities take place in the district itself, 50% of young people living there still are unable to find employment. High unemployment rates give birth to a range of inappropriate behavior in the district, including the development of informal and illegal activities, violence, and crime. Factors explaining why citizens are unable to find a job include the lack of professional qualifications (only 15% follow vocational training) and the fact that computers are rarely used as a source to look for a job or submit an application. This inability is due to material difficulties of access but also to a lack of qualification using the technology.
The main objective of the program is to increase employment among young people. The program’s objectives have influence on the job-demand side, as well as on the job-offer side of the market. The project aims at improving the quality of the job demand, by increasing young people’s skills and making them better correspond to the needs of the economy. In other words, it aims at increasing their employability by helping them go to training centers and putting forward their qualifications and past experiences, in order to make their profile more attractive to potential employers. On the job-offer side, the goal of the program is to better identify job opportunities, and to give youth a better access to it. More specifically, new internet tools (job platform, mailing list) intend to gather job offers and make them match with the demand.
One overall goal of the program was to empower citizens and make them more confident about the fact of taking part to social activities. The participation of women, who compose 70% of the population, was an integral aspect of the program.
At the beginning of the program, little information concerning the economic situation in the commune was available. In order to better implement the later employment strategy, a study to estimate employment potentials for young people was carried out. Through a grid of questions submitted to economic actors, the ability and willingness to employ young people was measured. More than 150 actors, who are economically active in different sectors, participated to it.
The field of investigation was not limited to the Yaoundé II Commune in order to take into account all potential for future employment, and so to maximize chances for young people to find a job. This questioning also served to make economic actors aware of the difficulties faced by young people to find a job. In the end, suburban agriculture, farming, woodwork, crafts, and services were identified as the most promising activity domains in terms of employment opportunities. Finally, the results of this study were publically presented to the economic participants, as well as to young people. In that way, a meeting and networking opportunity happened for both parts.
After this preparatory phase the core of the program began, consisting of training for young people to searching for a job on the internet, as well as to self-employment and entrepreneurship through the use of new technologies. This took place for each group of participant through two-hour sessions organized in a two-week period of time. One year later, 25 sessions for a total of 500 young people had already been organized. A steering committee met every week and was composed of representatives from the commune of Yaoundé II and the youth associations in the commune. From the beginning, computers were available so that only little complementary material was required. A partnership with a French NGO made it also possible for participants to buy second-hand informatics material for a cheap price.
Once young people have been trained to use the new technology, they could directly put into practice what they learned. A labor-matching action was implemented. First, participants received some assistance to write a proper resume. All resumes collected were put on an internet data-base, which helped matching job offers with qualifications of these young people. A mailing list was created to transmit new offers in the future. Considering the fact that job opportunities may not be sufficient to satisfy all demands, measures encouraging self-employment through new technologies (creation of their own business) were taken.
Moreover, the action allowed the commune to better identify young people with lack of qualification. These ones were sent to training centers in the city. Young people could decide on their own in which training branch they wanted to be.
The action also aimed at reinforcing youth participation in urban governance. The action plan for youth employability was elaborated in parallel to the new technology program. The Commune of Yaoundé II could take into account needs and wishes of young people through the organization of meetings where they could express their opinion and difficulties. These events also served as a networking action to better link young people from different communities.
Financing and resources
The project was mainly financed by the Europe Africa Trust Fund for infrastructures (Fonds fiduciaire Europe-Afrique pour les infrastructures)
After this experience socio economic integration has been included in the budget of the Yaoundé II neighborhood.
Results and impacts
The territoriality and subsidiarity guiding principles enabled the positive results at the local level. The first principle aimed at improving the possibilities for the territory to develop through the mobilization of its own potentials. Thus, the participation of local economic actors in the survey helped to identify local needs on the labor market and thus to orient the training and application of young people towards these needs. The subsidiarity principle implies that the action was implemented at the lowest territorial level, in order to better respond to the needs of the territory. It allowed mobilization of local economic and social actors and to create links between them.
In terms of measurable results, 614 young people were educated to the use of Internet for job-seeking purposes; 20% found a job. The investigation in the city identified 250 structures for the future employment of young people: half of them give framing and training possibilities and the other half give job opportunities. A higher rate of occupation among young people (through training or job) makes the problems associated to underemployment decrease.
The action also permitted the empowerment of young people. They could express their opinion and think to a better perspective for their future. The initiators found that self-employment projects generally proposed were of relevance. Therefore, it allowed young people to develop a sense for economic activities and enterprises. Moreover more dialogue between civil society, economic sector, and public authorities and NGOs was created.
Barriers and challenges
While exploring the economic sectors of the city, the surveyors had to deal with doubts and distrust concerning goals and veracity of the survey.
As previously stated, marginalized young people were difficult to convince to participate in the program. The two foreign NGOs, as well as the Commune of Yaoundé II worked close with local Youth associations to gain access to young people.
One of the difficulties was to keep the contact with young people, who participated in the program, so that they can further benefit from their internet training and their new application forms. For that, a mailing list was established, in order to transmit them future job offers.
Lessons learned and transferability
The project was thought as a pilot project to be implemented in other neighborhoods in the City of Yaoundé. To allow the reproduction of the program in other neighborhoods, information related to the program has been gathered and analyzed. To interest a larger audience, different document types have been produced such as brochures, CD-ROMs and evaluation documents.