Summary Brief: Overview of Findings from the USAID/Ethiopia Cross-Sectoral Youth Assessment Situational Analysis
Ethiopian youth share the same aspiration as their peers around the world – that of a better future – which they hope to achieve by accessing quality education, developing marketable skills, and acquiring a good job. Through successful employment, Ethiopian youth hope to generate the means to establish a home and family and earn the respect of the adult population. However, despite investments by the GOE to strengthen the education system and create more economic opportunities in the country, many Ethiopian youth are deeply dissatisfied with their daily lives, and they face significant challenges that impede their ability to turn their aspirations into reality.
The current education system in Ethiopia is of poor quality and does not equip youth with the marketable skills they need to establish a livelihood. Although the growth of vocational/technical institutions and universities in the country might appear to be a positive development, these institutions do not seem to be improving outcomes for young people, as many students become “graduated but unemployed,” or end up working in daily labor jobs despite completing technical or higher education degrees.
Coupled with an ineffective education system is an economy lacking opportunities for Ethiopian youth, which is a major source of dissatisfaction among the cohort. Almost two-thirds of youth focus group participants were unemployed at the time of research and noted that their lack of jobs severely limited their ability to achieve their life goals. For those youth who were employed, many were dissatisfied with the meager income they earned as daily laborers or as street vendors, remarking that the pay was insufficient to meet their needs.
Consequently, many young people – especially males – spend their days pursuing any means available to them to generate “quick cash,” wandering about in idleness, or using substances such as khat (a local leaf chewed as a stimulant), marijuana, and/or alcohol. Other youth, having lost all hope in achieving their aspirations in Ethiopia, now actively seek to emigrate abroad to the United States, Europe, or the Middle East.