According to the UNDP, despite constituting about 70% of the population, Somalia’s youth suffer from high rates of unemployment, a fact that highlights the unforeseeable future the country is headed towards.
Given that high degree of uncertainty, investing in youths’ skills stands out as the best and fastest way for change. This becomes a critical gateway to emphasize on education and comprehensive capacity building that includes non-formal and informal learning experiences.
For a drastic change to materialize, skills are direly needed to boost productivity and income, as well as equitable access to employment opportunities. Somalia’s rising trends in the areas of technology, industrialization, energy, agriculture, fisheries, and livestock are constantly altering the nature of the work and skills demanded.
One of the key primary causes of youth unemployment is the mismatch between the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that youth possess when entering the job market, and those needed and desired by employers.
To give you an idea, recently, coffee shops and restaurants are considered to be one of the most growing business areas in Somalia, but the skills demanded to run that sector are not invested in, in consequence, foreign employees are hired, chefs, baristas, and even restaurant managers are brought from the neighborhood countries. If such skills were locally invested in before, it would have reduced the unemployment rate of the country and contributed to the increase of the local benefaction from the sector’s value chain.
As unemployment continues to affect most of the youth, while businesses struggle to find qualified employees, preparing the youth for the practical world has become increasingly attuned, training the youth for skills, professions and technical knowhow will play a vital role in reducing the unemployment rate in the country.
Like any other country across the globe, Somalia needs a comprehensive skillset building consisting of Digital, Technical and Cognitive skills.
Somalia is one of the leading countries in Africa in the technology sector, an attribute which helped the country’s economy to recover. It has a fast-growing demand for digital skills because of the way firms interact, how businesses are structured, and how consumers obtain services, information, and goods.
By textbook, digital skills are a range of abilities to access, use and manage digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access, understand and manage information safely and appropriately.
These skills are the most important in the 21st century and its cross-cutting and drawn for all the other skills, People who have digital skills not only make themselves more employable but guarantees their future careers by comprehending key digital channels
Somalia is one of the first African countries that has established mobile money platforms that have changed the lives of many and facilitated trade and business for corporations as well as small and medium enterprises, which are the growth engines of the Somali economy. Mobile money has also contributed immensely to Somalia’s economic recovery (Sominvest, 20…)
Mobile money and technology helped Somali families in rural areas, changing how they operate their businesses and maintain their livelihoods, it also facilitated the support they receive from their families in urban areas, as well as the NGO’s and aid agencies, Mobile money is considered to be “an innovative and safer way to support the most vulnerable people in rural areas” as per Etienne Peter Schmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.
As a business-oriented society, digital skills helped the Somali youth with starting their Tech oriented businesses such as E-commerce enterprises, advertising and graphic design agencies, software designing and a lot more, enabling these businesses to excel in their respective sectors.
Technical skills are referred to be the abilities, expertise, interactions, and knowledge needed to perform specific tasks. They are practical and often relate to mechanical, information technology, mathematical, or scientific tasks. Some examples include knowledge of programming languages, design programs, mechanical equipment, or tools.
Technical skills are crucial. For instance, the growing numbers of hospitals in the country will have to import a lot of medical equipment which may need specific skills to install and maintain, which means by effect that having medical engineers would incentivize investments in the health sector.
As Somalia is one of the most growing countries in the construction sector, architects, civil engineers, designers, technicians, and many more skills are needed to keep up with the sector growth. Furthermore, promoting and investing in technical skills may help encourage investors to invest in the industries, and stimulate industrialization in the country.
Providing suitable technical skills training to those who the underprivileged youth would help to reduce the unemployment and would fill the huge gap in basic technical skillset existant to the relevant sectors the provide for the needed workforce mix that would include electricians, plumbers, electronic devices handlers and equipment fixers, etc.
Cognitive skills, are referred to be the skills to think, understand complex ideas, read and remember reasons, learn from experience, adapt effectively to the environment. Such skills include the foundational literacy and numeracy as well as creativity, critical thinking, paying attention and problem-solving.
Unfortunately, the available faculties in our universities are condensed in theoretical areas while lacking the focus on the cognitive skills that can help students to become entrepreneurs and innovators which would take part in the growth of Somalia’s economy.
Somalia’s slow-moving entrepreneurs are a great sign that higher education institutions need to focus on teaching about and training on entrepreneurship and all the cognitive skills they need to facilitate the success of their start-ups.
The growing copy-paste/imitative strategies in Somalia’s business sectors show the need for the appropriate training on critical thinking and problem-solving in our education providing institutions, helping the youth to be more creative and innovative.
Mobilizing proper skills training for the younger generation will help build up their passion and interest. as a result, they can become a powerful partner in solving problems, creating jobs, and leading the change.
Investing in skills can contribute to structural transformation and economic growth by increasing employability, labor productivity, and producing a new generation of skilled workforce that can play a key role in attracting foreign direct investment.
Somalia’s current situation and future migration patterns point to the need for more open education and capacity building initiatives that leads to better jobs and brings the necessary technological innovation to Somalia’s key productive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, livestock and energy.
More importantly, as the link between finance and technology has grown so strong in Somalia and considering how mobile money services such as (EVC, ZAAD, EDAHAB) contributed positively to the economy of the country, fintech is likely going to be a game-changer as it provides lots of opportunities for investment and development, thus investment in Fintech skills should be prioritized to reap the long-term benefits of these skills. Hence, skill development partnerships between the private sector, government and academic institutions are required to ensure that education and skills meet the demand of the local labor markets
As most of the Somali universities offer educational programs that focus on theoretical fields, leaving their graduates unable to compete in the job market, it is time for education providers to introduce technical and vocational education, as well as training programs that respond to the needs of the labor market, ultimately allowing the youth to seek better-paying jobs, while also prioritizing critical thinking and problem-solving skills in their social and art faculties.
Most of the Somali youth lose interest in seeking higher education opportunities within the country because of the limited available faculties, thus vocational schools will be an alternative for those intending to pursue demanding skills. It also improves the individual chance of employability and reduces the mismatch between the job demand in the market and the supply of skilled manpower.
As governments, private sector and education providers play an important role in changing the status quo by making strategic decisions, they should join forces by designing and implementing effective policies that can revolutionize the skill development in Somalia which will ultimately shape the future of our nation. In addition, investing in the skills of young people can empower them to be advocates for sustainable change.
Mohsen Aylawe : Author
Managing Director @Alkowther General trading company /Entrepreneur
Contact Mohsen: Mohsenaylawe@gmail.Com