February 25, 2019 – A team of local PEP researchers held a national policy conference in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss their findings on how working while studying eases school-to-work transitions.
The conference attracted 35 participants, 14 of whom are directly involved in policy processes whether as advisors or analysts. Notably, several representatives from the Agence National Pour l’Emploi(ANPE/National Employment Agency) and the Direction de l'Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionnelle(DETFP/Directorate for Technical Education and Vocational Training) were present.
The aim of the event was for the research team to facilitate a policy dialogue on how youth employment interventions can be improved by promoting working while studying. In presenting the findings from their PEP study on the Youth Unemployment and the Transition from School to Work in Benin, selected under the PAGE II initiative in 2017, the research team shed light on the country’s youth employment problem.
“Young people are almost three times more at risk of unemployment than adults,” said team member Inès Monwanou, “And in 2012, more than 42% of young people had been looking for a job for over a year.”
The team analysed the school-to-work transition durations of young people who did and did not work (during evenings, weekends and holidays) while in full time education. They found that working while studying reduces the time spent looking for work after leaving education, but that this effect is even greater for youth who worked and undertook internships or apprenticeships while in education.
Team member Hilaire Houeninvo said: “If we allow students to combine work and apprenticeships, we will see better results. Students who gain this kind of experience before finishing school have a real advantage in finding work more quickly.”
The research team called for current interventions aiming to reduce youth unemployment to be reoriented or extended to encourage labour market experience while studying, rather than after graduation. Find out more about the team’s research methods, findings, and policy recommendations in PEP Policy Brief 184.
In particular, the Observatoire de l'Emploi et de la Formation(OEF / Employment and Training Observatory) representative, Mrs Sylvie Bekoun, said that the OEF can use the team’s results to improve their work. She also recognised the mismatch between training and employment. Mr Alain Dossa, a direct policy advisor at the DETFP, concurred adding: “We have to make sure the choice of training is relevant for employment. The government’s first challenge is to develop an educational orientation policy.”
Mr Simplice Togbé, policy analyst for the ANPE said that the Ministry of Secondary Education had discussed the need for reorientation strategies the week before the team’s conference.
The OEF and the ANPE have since contacted the research team to collaborate to find out how they can reduce youth unemployment and underemployment.
Several journalists attended the conference and their reports were published in La Nation (a daily national newspaper), and broadcast on Canal 3 Bénin (the most watched television channel in Benin) and Maranatha Bénin Radio TV (a Christian broadcaster).
The research team organized the event with support from PEP and in collaboration with l'Université d'Abomey-Calavi.