In Niger, the training sector and the labour market face many challenges. The public sector alone is not able to absorb the growing number of young jobseekers – 70% of the Nigerien population is under 25. The private sector, while presenting opportunities, currently offers only a limited number of positions, often concentrated in the informal sector. The formal labour market employs only 7% of the labour force. However, technical trades and vocational courses can provide concrete answers to the empowerment of young people as well as better prospects in their professional life. Here are a few testimonies and thoughts from stakeholders in the training sector in the Tillabéri region.
Testimony of Salou Adamou, Regional Director of Technical Education and Vocational Training in Tillabéri
I am a trained electrician; I have always practiced this profession and I have taught electricity for many years. I am currently in charge of coordinating the various training centres in the region, which comprises 13 departments that all have vocational training centres.
All the technical and manual trades provide job opportunities, the key is to stay the course and move forward. Vocational and technical training can make a significant contribution to the country’s development. However, this sector in Niger faces numerous challenges, including the need for substantial material and human resources. Especially with the increase in population, the capacities of structures and human resources must follow so that children are well trained and competitive in the labour market.
All trades are equal. Each young person can choose a trade and evolve according to the opportunities around them. For example, if a student has a parent who owns a metal construction workshop, it would be much better for him/her to train in welding so that they can learn in the family business and subsequently set up their own workshop. In agropastoralism, you also have to seize opportunities: Tillabéri is the river region, there are many rice fields, agriculture and livestock are promising niches.
Insecurity affects the training of young people in some areas. Tillabéri has 43 municipalities. Today (June 2022), three vocational training centres (Centres de Formations aux Métiers, CFM) out of forty are closed due to insecurity. The alternative for learners in these centres is to go and study in other similar structures, in secure regions. For example, the centre in Inates is closed and has not been functional for two years. The learners were transferred to Ayorou. Alternative solutions are being adopted at regional level to move young people so that they can pursue their learning.
There are still efforts to be made to improve youth learning. For the State, it is about inserting them in training courses. Indeed, when they leave the traditional training centres, it is not always obvious that these young people possess the necessary qualifications to be able to set up on their own. We teach them their trade using a holistic approach in school . If they can complete an internship with the apprenticeship masters or in the industry, they can further develop their skills.
Testimony of the Director of the Technical College of Tillabéri, Mansour Moussa
The technical secondary school of Tillabéri has 425 learners trained in 7 different fields: agro-sylvo-pastoralism, metal construction, electricity, home economics, mechanics, construction and plumbing. The training of young girls is very important and is one of our school’s priorities.
The number of girls is growing every year. They primarily come to learn home economics-related trades (sewing, catering, etc.), as this substantially increases their income and helps them to become independent. Female learners often set up their own workshop at home. We also have girls in the plumbing course and some have had a contract with the Red Cross.
In our school, we face several problems, particularly the lack of materials: if you want to learn, you need to have something to work with! The small size of the buildings is also an obstacle to learning and some workshops are not sufficiently equipped.
The ProEMPLOI* project supported by Germany and the European Union provided us with state-of-the-art equipment for the welding section, which received a lot of material such as a welding machine, a bending machine, a workbench, a compressor, etc.
We were also provided with materials that enabled us to organise two welding training sessions. In terms of technical support, our institution benefited from coach training and training in educational engineering. The support has given our institution a high profile, which has motivated many young people to come and enrol with us.
With youth technical training, we have solved several problems related to the lack of manpower plaguing some trades in the region. The key to success lies in the youth’s will. We push young people to start their own business.
Every young person we train has a business idea. They want to surpass their workshop master, to be financially independent and to achieve self-empowerment. This is a source of pride, both for me and the tutors.
Testimony of Mr. Douma Moussa, Mayor of the municipality of Tillabéri
The municipality of Tillabéri is located 115 km away from Niamey. It is an agropastoral municipality. We have a lot of unemployed youths and this represents a major challenge here. Many are graduates and want to find jobs in offices.
The private sector is an area where we can succeed today in Niger and reach a certain level of autonomy. It is very important that young people take an interest in the private sector. In the municipality of Tillabéri, this sector is in good health, insofar as the few businesses allow young people to make a living.
As an authority, we accompany and advise young people. Young people who remain idle engage in activities that do not honour us, such as terrorism. But once they have work, the problem is solved because they earn enough to support themselves.
Young girls today are fully engaged in the entrepreneurship sector. Many of them are running their own businesses and making a living from it. Many girls today engage in sewing, and even mechanics or carpentry. As an authority, we are very happy to see girls and boys pursuing the same activities. I can even say that the girls are more successful than the boys!
The ProEMPLOI project supports our communities. Many young people have become entrepreneurs. And they themselves can recruit other people; the opportunities are multiplying.
Testimony of Saidan Oumourou, welding trainee
I like welding because it is a good job that allows us to build doors, chairs,… I decided to learn welding to help my parents and friends. After high school, I applied to many places but I couldn’t find a job. I wondered what I could do…
I decided to learn welding., as I have my two hands, so I can work! I am improving little by little. I have been learning this trade for 7 years. The capacity building training supported by ProEMPLOI has helped me to create new objects, like a dining table, chairs… I have learned new techniques like working with gas welding.
I aim to open my own workshop in five or six years’ time. I would also like to train young people, as my workshop owner taught me. It is important for me to teach others because I may die tomorrow, but the young people will continue after me and they too will teach others!
Testimony of Amadou Yacouba, workshop master in metal construction
Many people are building in the municipality of Tillabéri and this gives us a lot of work. The majority of the apprentices in my workshop are youths aged between 15 and 35. There are young people who have dropped out of school, others who have come to the city because of the insecurity. Their parents brought them to me so that they could learn a trade. I have 20 apprentices in my workshop. Some of them have been there for more than two years and are capable of being workshop masters themselves.
What motivates me: I see that the State of Niger cannot employ all the young people who finish their studies. With our workshops, we support the State by training other young people. After one or two years, they can be workshop masters and train other young people.
More than ten youths who have passed through my training course have found employment, some are workshop masters, others have been hired by companies. Some are also working on the construction of the Kandaji Dam.
Good training requires patience on the part of the young person. Once you have been trained, you must persevere and keep working and learning to stay in the loop.
I would like to give young people some advice: do not expect anything to come easily. You must strive to be useful to yourself and to the country. The state cannot employ all its children. You have to join workshops to learn.
My plans? To help more young people learn a trade and to have a small room to train young people continuously.
Contributions of the ProEMPLOI project in the Tillabéri region (as of 30 September 2022)
ProEMPLOI has trained more than 554 young people in Tillabéri in the fields of metal construction, wood carpentry, rural mechanics, catering, building electricity, agricultural processing and sewing. Among these young people, 315 are women (57%). ProEMPLOI has also trained trainers and head teachers. Equipment has been deployed for the training of young people. The project operates in 8 departments (Balléyara, Kollo, Gothèye, Ouallam, Say, Téra, Tillabéri and Torodi) and 16 municipalities and is co-financed by Germany and the European Union.
Many changes have been achieved:
- Young people are trained in the structures of the municipality of Tillabéri.
- Equipment has been provided to the various training centres.
- The trainers’ capacities have been strengthened.
- Coaching trainers have been trained to support young people who have left the training environment, in setting up and entering the labour market.
*The ProEMPLOI project is part of all 1200 projects labelled Sahel Alliance.
Photo credits: Alliance Sahel/2022/Aude Rossignol
- Download the ProEMPLOI project presentation sheet (French version)
- Youth entrepreneurship in Niger: interview with Louis Akakpo, Private Sector Specialist at the World Bank Group in the West Africa region
- Education White Paper: The State of Education in the Sahel (World Bank)