ESSA’s employability project focuses on improving career service outcomes to close the skills gap and enhance work opportunities for young people in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the first project within ESSA’s transition to work stand, which focuses on joining up employers with universities and colleges to implement evidence-based approaches to help young people transition into work.

According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), by 2030 young Africans are expected to make up 42% of the world’s youth and account for 75% of those under 35 years in Africa. However, most of these youth will struggle to find decent jobs. A major contributor to unemployment is the significant gap between the skills developed in tertiary education and the skills requirements of the labour market in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

At ESSA, we recognise the social and economic importance and benefit of knowledge sharing and collaborations between industry and tertiary education institutions. Hence, we are working to gather evidence and data to inform and drive effective and productive cooperation.

Progress so far

  • We have identified critical barriers to increase employability. These barriers include; limited data, measures and standards on employability, required to guide strategies and practices within institutions, among others.

  • We have also synthesised evidence from the African Education Research Database (AERD), of strategies to enhance youth employability in sub-Saharan African (SSA) and identify recommendations for universities, colleges and employers.

  • We are partnering with The Education Collaborative (Ashesi University, Ghana) and  Kepler (Rwanda), to support tertiary education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to develop effective careers service structures and industry engagement strategies.


On 20th April 2022, ESSA hosted an in-person and virtual Industry Roundtable. We shared findings from research that has been undertaken with The Education Collaborative at Ashesi University, including insights from interviews with industry and HEIs in Ghana, Rwanda and Burkina Faso. We also facilitated structured discussions between employers and HEIs on the requirements and priorities for productive engagement and partnership.