Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sport and the floating coffins of the Mediterranean: what jobs for the unemployed graduates of Africa

Sport and the floating coffins of the Mediterranean: what jobs for the unemployed graduates of Africa

Dr. Gilles Klein


My uncle made his fortune with that. He only takes the big open wooden fishing boats. The tariff is 2500€ for the crossing. For me, it costs 1500…”. In Europe, every day, the press reports exile leading young women and men, but also families, to cross the Mediterranean, towards what they think to be Eldorado.


The United Nations High Commissioner puts the number of refugees in the world as 25 million. Most of them find refuge in neighboring countries. But aside from the periods of crisis, there are many young people who leave for abroad, looking for opportunities or for a more promising future.


Getting a good education, learning specific skills, finding a job: the developed countries attract the world's youth, notably African. Some have succeeded in the adventure which continues to flourish in Dakar, Cotonou, Bamako or Sfax, the dream for young Africans to reach the Holy Grail. However, once across the Mediterranean, they survive in a tent, in the best case in a home for refugees. For a migrant, finding a job is far from easy.

We are all spectators to these dramas. Personally, sensitive to the situation of African youth, the Dramane Haïdara’s comments resonate in me. In 2014, this specialist of the strategies of employment development at the Dakar office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned as following: “« The world settled into an unprecedented employment crisis. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the region of the world most severely affected by that crisis: world-wide financial crisis, demographic explosion, lack of vision from governments, corruption, management models inherited from the times of structural adjustment programs. Youth is the most exposed. "


Unemployment is now seriously affecting African youth. According to Dramane Haïdara, of the 75 million unemployed young people in 2013, 38 million of them are living in Africa. In a region of the world which has 200 million inhabitants aged 18-24, that means 40% of the active population. From the OIT analyst’s point of view, it is a “lost generation”. Indeed, 40% of those joining rebel and terrorist movements could be motivated by lack of employment. This unoccupied youth is “a time bomb”.
Young people
Anybody wanting to work with and for youth in the developing countries, mainly in Africa, must know the nature of the challenges waiting for them. Young people have often been left to cope by themselves and without a perspective on employment. It is the main weakness of North Africa with 30% of young people unemployed – 41% for the young women. Tunisia lost until 30.000 jobs per month after Ben Ali’s downfall.

Sub-Saharan Africa

The situation is also worrying in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where 60% of all unemployed are young people. Every year, some 10 to 12 million young people come on to the labour market. The countries emerging from wars or political turbulence are the most affected: 50% of young people are unemployed in Sierra Leone; in Liberia, the issue of social inclusion of young former soldiers. In the countries, which are unscathed by war or disasters, unemployment threatens social cohesion: 31,7% unemployed young people in Ghana; between 20 and 25% in Burkina Faso, Benin and Senegal.

Unemployed graduates

In Burkina Faso, at a recruitment session of public service, 350.000 candidates competed for 7000 jobs. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of unemployed graduates in North and sub-Saharan Africa increased more than threefold, from 1,6 million to 4,9 million. There will be 9,6 million in 2020, 13 million in 2030. Some pathways are congested, such as social sciences. However, some areas are being abandoned such as technical training. There is huge waste as a result, many graduates not finding any job in their country.
Training challenged

The situation in the Arab world allows a better understanding. A quantitative development of higher education has been achieved to the detriment of the quality of the human capital and the relevance to the labour market. In Tunisia in the 2010’s, the sacrifice of Mohamed Bouazizi’s is symbolic. For a long time, media reported, the going on elsewhere in the Arab world, of the protest movements of unemployed graduates, waiting for professional inclusion.
And sport ?

Recently, I have been in Tunisia, for the conference on investment TUNISIA 2020. The unemployment rate of higher education graduates has reached 32%. The sector of sport is severely affected: 5.807 graduates from this pathway are currently waiting for a job. The labour market in the sector of sport education and coaching is saturated. The ministry of youth and sports will offer only 300 jobs per year. As Fredj Bouslama highlights: “young people who obtain their bachelor degree in 2016 will be employed only in… 2038”. Thus, 900 young graduates, trained within the four institutes of physical education and sport, join the cohort of unemployed graduates.


Tunisia is a member state of our organization. We have several projects currently under negotiation with the Tunisian authorities: installation of a sports centre with a strong African vocation. It would host an academy of sport dedicated to young people from the member states of our organization, a sports and prevention through sport clinic, sports facilities able to host major sports events. An economic partnership could support the construction of several regional and local sports centres in the regions, in Kasserine, Gafsa or Sidi-Bouzid

These building programs of sports infrastructures in our member states at national, regional and local levels are ambitious: they will generate jobs for physical education teachers, coaches, health and fitness instructors and managers of sports. The launching of investments in 2017 will undoubtedly allow significant progress in that area. But, to maintain the relationships with the world of sport in our member states, our organization shall largely disseminate the tools already designed relating to the contribution of sport to Sustainable Development Goals.

Next: From 1.0 to 4.0: the information technologies, indispensable tools to the future of training in sport.

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