There’s a lot more “raw data” to convince you things are bad in the job market. On the surface, labor market statistics in Africa show that overall unemployment levels for the region are hovering just above the global average while Africa’s youth unemployment levels look better than the rest of the world.  However, these numbers don’t reflect the fact that young Africans are more likely to work in the informal sector and not in places that pay good wages, develop skills or provide a measure of job security.

According to data by the Brookings Institution, the ratio of youth to adult unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa is 1.9 compared to 2.7 worldwide.  Africa’s low youth unemployment rate is not because Africa is doing well at generating jobs for the young.  It is because African countries with low unemployment tend to have large informal sectors. Thus, Africa’s youth unemployment challenges encompass more than just a lack of jobs for African youth, but also a shortage of good quality jobs.

Since for a great majority of African young people, the youth unemployment problem is more about the quality of the job than the absence of a job, Africa needs to do the following to address the aforementioned challenges to create more good jobs.

There is a dire need for reforms in both short- and medium-term employment policies, growth in agriculture and other industries, as well as increased technical and vocational training in order to address Africa’s increasing youth unemployment in 2013. Technical and vocational training institutions can provide African youth with the necessary skills to employ themselves.

Also, Africa needs more industry.  While manufacturing is the industrial sector most closely associated with employment intensive growth, there are also “industries without smokestacks” in agriculture and services that can create good jobs.