Who's to Blame for the Unemployment Crisis in Somalia: the Youth or the Market?

Published Date :

August 25, 2022

Time to Read :

7 Minutes

Lack of Opportunities Stem from Unpreparedness for Opportunities

For many, Somalia is a country with almost zero opportunities for the youth. We don’t want to say this claim is exaggerated as we are aware of the challenges the Somali youth face: they live in a nation with an almost 70% unemployment rate. Significantly few large corporates and industries can absorb more than 15,000 university graduates produced yearly. But where is this claim of zero opportunities stemming from? Is it about “lack of opportunities” or more about “unpreparedness” to take advantage of “available opportunities”? We believe it is the latter. Let’s share the tremendous success story of our Digital Skills for Jobs (DS4Jobs) project we recently concluded in collaboration with the International TradeCenter (ITC) and with funding support from the Government of Japan.

The DS4Jobs was launched to establish digital freelancing as a viable job creation alternative in Somalia. The project was launched to harness market-based incentives to help foster livelihoods in the online freelancing sector for the Somali youth. Project activities allowed the youth to gain commercially valuable skills while supporting value creation and employment in Somalia. The project also demonstrated the feasibility and modalities for linking the youth to opportunities in regional and international markets.

Digital Skills = Quality Jobs

The DS4Jobs has proved the possibility of tapping into opportunities beyond Somalia. Our talents now offer digital services for clients in Northern America and Europe. In other words, the local Somali market is now expanded “digitally” to include global markets. Within four months, the DS4Jobs talents have generated more than $60,000 in income from digital freelancing, created more than 50 tech-based startups, and brought more than 100 quality jobs. Our freelancers are now working with Hormuud Telecom, Dahabshiil Bank, Premier Bank, Amal Bank, Islamic Relief Foundation, and many other leading brands. To be honest, we had a target of generating $1,000 from the DS4Jobs project, and we ended up getting the above crazy numbers! Forget about the >50 digital startups and the >100 quality jobs; these metrics were beyond our scope for this pilot project.

Dominating the Local Talent Ecosystem

The DS4Jobs talents also regularly showcase their newly acquired digital skills in the local ecosystem. And they are dominating the market. The winner of Astaan TV’s Hindise Startup competition and the 3rd prize award winner of the recent startup competition hosted byPremier Bank are both DS4Jobs talents. The Best Mobile Apps Developer of SOSTECTech Week is also a DS4Jobs talent. Also, the winner of Mogadishu Tech Summit’sBest Mobile App Award for the national droughts is developed by a graduate of our DS4Jobs program. All these feats mean that our talents are the best in the local market when it comes to showcasing digital skills.

Not only are they dominating startup competitions, but they are also getting employed by leading companies. For example, through a very competitive selection process, the newly hired Digital Media Officer of Hormuud Telecom is a DS4Jobs talent. The same goes for AmalBank and Islamic Relief Foundation.

Top Talents Award

Due to the quality of the DS4Jobs program, ultra-skilled Somali youth have emerged from the DS4Jobs program.Their level of skills acquisition, maturity, positive attitude, and mindset are so good that we decided to announce the Top Talents. This talent recognition award picks the best talents from our programs and publishes them on a separate page on our website. The goal is to create visibility for these talents and force the local market to absorb them immediately.

And this is already working well. More than 100 of our 170 graduates are already working full-time with leading local companies. A private sector company recently approached us with an offer to hire 12 talents from our DS4Jobs program. Yes, that is an offer for 12 graduates from just one company.

Study Tour in Nairobi

To continue nurturing a mindset that sees opportunities beyond Somalia, we hosted a Study Tour for our DS4Jobs participants in Nairobi, Kenya. During the three-day study tour, the DS4Jobs talents had the chance to learn from the experiences of the best digital freelancers in Nairobi and meet other aspiring freelancers. They also had the opportunity to present their newly acquired skills and digital work for clients in the presence of the Japanese Embassy in Kenya and the JICA Somalia team.

The talents had spent a whole day in Nairobi Garage, where they attended a panel of discussion with other Somali andKenyan freelancers from Nairobi. The gathering was a platform of knowledge and experience exchange where the DS4Jobs freelancers shared their experiences and learned from their counterparts.

The DS4Jobs project is a testimony of the opportunities possible for the Somali youth. The local market is not ignoring the youth; it is the youth who lack the skills required by the market. With highly sought-after skills such as digital skills, the market will give you opportunities and pay you well. You will also have options to choose from. Some of our talents have even refused to accept job offers because their newly acquired digital skills are getting them a large lump sum of financial rewards. For many, this sounds more like a dream; but it is already happening for our #DS4Jobs talents.

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