Africa entered the new millennium with high levels of youth unemployment and severe education challenges at every level. To cope with these challenges, African leaders have reiterated the need to increase access to education, improve quality and relevance, and ensure equity.Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) forms part of this pledge to advance education and employment across the continent, especially with a focus on equipping young people with the required skills to enter and effectively perform in the job market through specialised technical training.

As part of the African Union’s Second Decade of Education (2006-2015), the continental TVET strategy takes account of concrete recommendations to address policy issues, challenges and gaps that constrain the implementation of initiatives and programmes for skills development on the continent. It highlights TVET as a response to foster skills development and youth employment. In January 2016, African Heads of State and Government also adopted the continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) to deliver better education standards, increase higher levels of quality employment and scale up entrepreneurship and innovation.

In support of this pledge, the African Union Commission, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), KfW and GIZ financed through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) developed the Skills Initiative for Africa (SIFA). The Initiative aims to promote the occupational propsects of young Africans through the support of skills development programmes and close cooperation.

SIFA consists of two components, a Finance Facility and Technical Component. The AUDA-NEPAD Finance Facility provides funding to innovative employment-oriented skills development project, following a competitive application process. For more information, visit https://skillsafrica.org/ . The Technical Component provides a continental platform for knowledge exchange and private sector engagement in skills development.  

The online platform – “Africa’s Platform for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship” (ASPYEE) forms part of the SIFA Technical Component and serves as a knowledge repository to share and replicate these nationally-tried and –tested approaches throughout the continent.

The portal focuses on scaling up good practices in the areas of:

“The Skills Initiative for Africa will go a long way to link practitioners to improve the livelihoods of young men and women, by equipping them with market orientated practical skills and know-how needed to drive growth of African economies.”

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Agency

“Africa is by far the youngest continent on the globe. Having a young population can be challenging but also offers a huge opportunity to the African nations. If a young workforce - young men and young women - can be offered a good education as well as productive jobs, both the people and the state will have a prosperous future. Worldwide innovation and productivity in the economies are directly linked to skilled and creative people, and opportunities to do business. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to invest in young people, their education, skills and employment, as we do with our programmes, to create better future prospects for Africa’s youth.”

​​​​​ Dr Inge Baumgarten, Director GIZ Office to the African Union