Cieslik, K., Barford, A. and Vira, B. (2021). Young people not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Sub-Saharan Africa: Sustainable Development Target 8.6 missed and reset. Journal of Youth Studies, p.1-22.
Sustainable Development Goal 8, Target 8.6, represents a direct commitment to improving the dramatic labour market situation of young people by substantially reducing the proportion of young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) by 2020. This deadline has now passed, and while progress has been made in most EU countries, the situation of young people categorized as NEET in Sub-Saharan Africa has worsened over the past ten years. In this paper, we review the existing literature on youth employment in Africa and analyse the reasons for stalled progress. We debunk five myths of youth unemployment and underemployment, which have hampered understanding and progress. These are that: (1) education and training systems are defective, (2) youth micro-entrepreneurship and self-employment offer a panacea, (3) the informal sector is part of the problem and not part of the solution, (4) care work equates to inactivity, and (5) the agricultural sector has little potential for job creation. We recommend more research on the supply side of the African labour markets to provide a more nuanced understanding of the structural barriers to youth market entry and call for a concerted international effort to battle the youth employment crisis through job creation.