Unemployment is a major issue facing Ethiopia, with more than 2 million young people estimated to enter the labour market every year. The National Youth Development and Change Strategy, approved in 2017, included a strong focus on youth employment, with a view to speeding up the transformation of the country from an agrarian economy and ensuring youth involvement in green economic development. There have also been significant initiatives to promote employment through micro and small-scale enterprises (MSEs) supported by loans from the Youth Revolving Fund. The Federal Job Creation Commission was established in 2018 to coordinate efforts, with the aim of creating 3 million new jobs in 2020, 14 million by 2025 and 20 million by 2030. However, youth unemployment remains critical and women’s involvement in the labour market is still limited.



Key research findings

  • Young people’s transition to the labour market is slower in Ethiopia than in the other Young Lives countries.
  • Most of the young people are working for themselves, mainly in the informal sector, but only a few of these have managed to establish viable businesses.
  • There is a mismatch between the jobs available and educated young people’s expectations of office jobs.
  • Daily labour in agricultural and industrial work provides a useful source of additional income. However, wages are low and conditions poor, and most young people seek to move on as soon as they can to other jobs or their own businesses. Moreover, health and environmental risks are causes for concern.
  • The Government’s preferred job creation model promoting youth cooperatives has faced many challenges. These include limited involvement of women and graduates, problems with loan modalities, and young people’s preference for working independently or with groups of their own choice.