Two million Ethiopian youth enter the job market every year. Yet, due to bleak prospects at home, many decide to leave the country through unofficial channels. These ‘irregular’ migrants not only leave their country behind, they also open themselves up to a number of acute threats including human trafficking and exploitation in the workplace. Even if they do decide to stay in Ethiopia and find work, wages are often too low to make ends meet – particularly in the cities where the wealth gap is glaring. Many develop a deep sense of hopelessness as the end of school approaches, triggering them to accept the risks that irregular migration brings.
Knowledge is power
The Employable Youth in Ethiopia (EYE) programme – implemented by Dorcas in collaboration with Woord en Daad – is working to combat these issues and improve the Ethiopian outlook.
The programme is designed to create new education and employment pathways for youth and help give them a fresh perspective on the world around them. Youth learn ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ vocational skills, and, if applicable, how to operate their own small business. Through our educational and awareness raising modules, what we call ‘life skills training’, young people also learn about the pros and cons of international migration. They also learn about the different risks they face on their journey to a new country as well as on arrival. This gives youth the power to make informed decisions and ultimately serves to prevent abuse.
To ensure our message reaches far and wide we take it to different forums including school social clubs, Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs) and community meetings. We disseminate them on school loudspeakers or through brochures and leaflets.
Dorcas also works to support a range of small-scale business endeavours by linking trainees to micro-finance organisations and enterprise development offices so that they can access loans and sustain their business.
Accelerating our reach
If young people do choose a future in Ethiopia, they are able to play an active role in the strengthening of the local economy. By connecting participants with local businesses and influential actors, we show them the impact they can have and give them a voice. Many go on to become role models in their community and inspire others to follow suit – a powerful engine for growth.
EYE serves to protect all people within society, even those most marginalised. On a larger scale, the programme works to address the global migration and refugee crisis. This has helped attract the attention of local NGOs, civil society actors and government bodies. In 2018, The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided €6 million to support the rollout of the programme – significantly aiding the development our life skills wing of the programme as well as helping us match more children to work or study opportunities upon completion. How do we know if EYE works? Studies are ongoing in different communities and settings with learning progress and dropout rates continuously measured. This way we ensure that the training we provide is informed by evidence – and improved and built upon, every step of the way.
27 July 2020