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Co-funded by the European Union

Take Action Now: Rally for Inclusive Youth Employment through Business Environment Reforms

Meet Mariama, a highly qualified young professional, who has decided to work in the UK, instead of Ghana, the country where she was trained. Her diverse professional and voluntary journey has enabled her to hone her skills in customer service, business administration and community outreach. Despite her skills and experience, Mariama struggled to find employment in her own country.

Challenges young people face to get jobs in ACP countries

Mariama’s struggle is an all too familiar issue affecting many young people in ACP countries. Young people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the shocks of the “missing jobs crisis”. The growing youth population coupled with increased education and training opportunities have not translated into increased employment opportunities for young people. As a consequence, the number of young people engaged in labour markets has decreased from “568 million to 497 million” between 1999 and 2019 (ILO 2020). The factors causing the high unemployment rates observed across ACP countries extend beyond the common narratives related to lack of skills and jobs. More importantly, the challenges facing young people are a result of broader structural constraints within the business environments of ACP countries.  These include legal and governance framework and infrastructural constraints.

Supporting an inclusive workplace

The barriers are particularly challenging for women and persons with disability, echoing Mariama’s experience as a woman with a physical impairment. She highlights the additional hurdle by stating that,  “while you compete with people with similar to equal qualifications and experience, you are also faced with the hurdle of competing with people who are considered better candidates, just because they are able-bodied, even though they may not have better skills or experience.”


Mariama’s story underscores the urgent need for systematic change to business environments to address the employment challenges facing young people, particularly for underserved groups such as women and persons with disabilities.

The role of policymakers in improving and increasing employment opportunities for young people in ACP countries

The youth populations in ACP countries hold vast untapped potential for sustainable economic growth. However, young people, particularly women, often face barriers such as lack of work experience and labour market knowledge, leading to reluctance from employers to hire them. To address this, ACP policymakers must support businesses to provide inclusive employment opportunities through effective job-matching systems and digital platforms. Also, policy makers should identify growth industries whether it is horticulture, manufacturing or food processing and facilitate job-intensive growth in both formal and informal sectors. Policymakers can utilise resources like the ILO’s Sector Selection for Decent Work and Market Systems analysis to effectively choose sectors and firms for employment initiatives (ILO, 2017).


Additionally, educating employers on the benefits of hiring young men and women, including those with disabilities, and incentivising businesses to do so is crucial. Policymakers can facilitate this through Public-Private Dialogue and communication campaigns.

New ICR Report on Business Environment Reforms to promote Youth Employment in ACP countries

The ICR Facility’s latest report on Business Environment Reforms (BER) to promote Youth Employment in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries discusses business environment reforms that present opportunities for advancing youth employment across ACP regions. The report also emphasises the vital role of policymakers in addressing youth employment challenges in ACP countries and proposes four comprehensive BER recommendations to facilitate entry into the workforce by removing barriers to greater youth employment, promoting job-intensive growth, and fostering inclusivity. The report will be launched soon here.

Forthcoming ICR Facility Webinar on “Business Environment Reforms to promote Youth Employment in ACP countries”

Join our webinar on the 27th of March to launch the latest ICR report and discuss business environment reforms to promote youth employment in ACP countries. This webinar provides an opportunity for policymakers and stakeholders to explore solutions that can promote youth employment by creating a more favourable business environment for inclusive growth. Participants will have the chance to discover findings from the ICR Facility’s latest report and hear from expert speakers sharing best practices and experience across the region.

The ICR Facility supported the production of this publication. It is co-funded by the European Union (EU), the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the British Council. The ICR Facility is implemented by GIZ, the British Council, Expertise France, and SNV. The contents of the publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EU, OACPS, BMZ or of the implementing partners.

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