IOM Moves to Tackle High Youth Unemployment in Somaliland

GENEVA, Switzerland /African Press Organization (APO)/ Soaring unemployment in Somaliland, especially among school-leavers and university graduates, has fuelled an increase in irregular migration, drug addiction and conflict, according to a study conducted by the Somaliland National Youth Organization (SONYO).

This contributes to the irregular migration of hundreds young people who set off on a perilous journey to Europe across the desert. This movement has caused a massive brain drain of skilled and semi-skilled young people from Somaliland.

According to Somaliland’s National Development Programme, unemployment among youth stands at 75 per cent, which is much higher than the nation’s average of 61.5 per cent in urban areas and 40.7 per cent in rural and nomadic areas. Unofficial estimates show that at least 65-70 per cent of Somaliland’s 3.5 million people are under 30.

The study which was carried out in December 2010 by SONYO, in conjunction with the Dutch Oxfam-Novib, indicated that out of 800 people interviewed, only 25 per cent were employed.

“We are not incompetent. We are not lazy. We want to continue our education, receive employment training and participate productively in the workforce. But we are hampered by a lack of opportunity. We leave the country because we must survive,” says Ismail Said Ahmed, one of 20 students that have been selected for an intensive soft-skills and internship training being run by Somaliland authorities with support from IOM.

The 7-month training and internship programme, which has been launched in Borama, a border-town between Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somaliland, will place graduate students in challenging, paid internship assignments with Somaliland local and regional authorities and private companies.

“This is a great opportunity, but we need extra support. More than 3,000 students are graduating from Somaliland universities every year. To gain relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field, each one of our sons and daughters requires professionally-structured internships that provide real-life experience – not haphazard placements in companies that are not willing to equip them with necessary skills,” says Suleyman Hadi, the Mayor of Borama.

The 20 students were selected from Amoud University, the largest of three universities in Borama. They were picked based on their qualifications and strength of their grades. Top students from each faculty were shortlisted for the programme.

The soft skills training will be in project management, leadership and organizational development, career development and job-hunting, entrepreneurship and financial management. Students will also be trained to advocate against irregular migration.

“In addition to reducing the negative impact of irregular migration, the programme is intended to increase chances of employment for young migrants, internally displaced persons, and their host community. It will also contribute towards increasing capacity of local authorities through provision of qualified interns,” says Daihei Mochizuki, IOM Somalia’s livelihoods programme manager.

IOM, in collaboration with local authorities, youth service organizations, and local educational institutions is planning to scale up similar training programmes across Somaliland, Puntland, and the entire Somalia region. Another 20 students will be selected for the training and internship in Burao, Somaliland in coming weeks.

IOM’s livelihoods projects in Somalia are funded by the Japanese government.



International Office of Migration (IOM)

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