Education must give young people the skills needed to find good jobs

Youth unemployment in Guinea is one of many challenges the country faces.

Like other African nations, Guinea has one of the youngest populations in the world with more than 74% of the population aged below 30. Unemployment is the main problem youth face, especially among graduates who live in urban areas.

In the capital Conakry, two-thirds of higher education graduates under 30 are unemployed. This has to do with fewer opportunities in the formal sector and a lack of government jobs, which is aggravated by political instability and slow economic growth.

Life in Guinea is not easy for young people and certainly not for my young cousin. After earning his higher education degree, he has been wandering from office to office and company to company in search of a job – a routine he kept for two years but to no avail.

Nothing of substance came out of his search, not even a low-paying position. As a result, he resorted to the informal sector. He now has a telecentre (telephone services), which provides very little means to take care of his personal expenses; he is still not able to pay a single room rent.

Like my cousin, many graduates are in the same situation, wondering what the break of dawn might bring, light or darkness? This puts them in a constant state of negative thinking; all their dreams have been dashed with no alternative means for better a life.

This causes poverty, as they scramble to sustain their lives. In the midst of these disturbing odds, hope seems impossible.

This issue has been discussed extensively and the solution is clear: a dynamic environment must be created. The system must implement schemes that help generate opportunities for youth and establish conditions that respond to their concerns.

In doing so, a comprehensive balance among the education system, government and businesses is required.

Many employers have expressed their concerns over the kind of skills graduates receive which, in part, explains why employers are reluctant to hire.

In this area, I think we can make progress if we align the education system with the skill sets required in the marketplace through job training and mentoring programmes established in schools.

I believe the government can play a huge role in creating an appealing atmosphere that attracts investors, giving them a sense of trust and confidence to invest in the country.

These solutions are relatively conventional but they will be effective. If these solutions are taken into account, I believe we will make considerable progress in helping youth enter the labour force.