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Youth will do anything to get ahead

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Young people go to extraordinary lengths to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
This is according to the MasterCard Foundation’s preliminary findings from Youth Livelihoods Diaries research conducted over the past six months into youth employment behaviours in Africa, where 600-million people are under the age of 25, and 72% of its youth live on less than $2 per day.
“There is a distinct lack of research into the daily lives of African youth as they seek secure, safe and better paid work,” says Ann Miles, director of programmes: financial inclusion and youth livelihoods at the Foundation. “The agricultural sector is set to create 8-million stable jobs by 2020 and up to 14-million if the sector is accelerated. We believe it has to feature prominently in development plans for the continent if we hope to achieve a prosperous future for young Africans.”
Preliminary findings of the Youth Livelihoods Diaries research project indicate that:
* Young people in Africa need to have multiple jobs to survive. Although many of them pursue various micro-business ideas, they often find themselves also having to work in agriculture (sometimes just for household consumption). This experience causes many not to consider agriculture as a viable profession.
* More than 50% of young people are able to save money. The majority are saving cash at home rather than using a bank account.
* Young people are increasingly using technology, particularly mobile phones. Although this provides new opportunities, it also presents costs.
* Information about jobs and skills acquisitions is seen as the greatest need for research participants.
Solutions for accessing employment and micro-business opportunities within the agriculture value chain are a main topic at The MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit taking place in Cape Town now. This inaugural event is bringing together hundreds of experts, practitioners, young people and policymakers to discuss practical solutions to address youth unemployment on the continent. The summit is also exploring strategies and solutions to enable young people to transition to more secure employment, focusing on the agricultural value chain as a prime source of opportunity. It will also provide a space to cultivate fresh ideas, partnerships and networks. More than 50 young people will be in attendance to share their perspectives in relation to employment or self-employment in this sector.