Junior NDONG NDONG: “Rethinking our training model”

Junior NDONG NDONG: “Rethinking our training model”

Founded five years ago, Junior Achievement is an alternative to youth unemployment in Gabon. A country that displays, among other paradoxes, a graduate youth that does not meet the needs of the local labor market. Special Adviser to the Gabonese Presidency in charge of youth, Junior NDONG NDONG analyzes the problem and presents the solutions tested in the country.

Gabon presents a paradox in training: Young people are over-qualified in relation to the labor market’s needs. Hence an increasing rate of unemployment …

It is true that when we talk about the problem of youth unemployment in Gabon, the inadequacy of training and employment comes up every time. Each year, several thousand young graduates enter the labor market with inadequate profiles. This paradox thus poses the need to rethink our training model as a whole in order to adapt it to the profiles required by the economic orientation taken by our country. The current economic environment therefore requires that the policy of providing training should be in line with the labor market to reduce this unemployment rate. It is in response to this concern that the highest authorities have opted for a series of programs and encouraged several conventions aiming at promoting the employability and empowering young people in our country.

JA Gabon presents itself as one of its alternatives with the objective of directing the Gabonese towards self-entrepreneurship. Remind us of the genesis of this program and its evolutions…

At the initiative of the Head of State, we launched six programs with JA aimed at accelerating the process of empowering young people.

It all started with the 2011 National Youth Forum, which led to the birth of the national youth policy. Immediately the president asked to find a solution, through the setting up of an  incubator for the sector aiming at empowering the youths of our country.

Among them we find, the “Yts Time” program for out-of-school youth, “Mini-enterprise” for high schools, “Yep” for students, “Start up” for entrepreneurs, “Career success” for young graduates looking for work, and “My neighborhood” for children under the age of 12 years.

Junior Achievement was founded in this framework, 5 years ago. Since that time, it has trained approximately 10,000 young people, and has organized two Great Awards of Excellence to prevail the best projects.

Indeed, it is an awareness-raising program and initiation to entrepreneurship dedicated to young people aged 16 to 35, which intends to foster the empowerment of Gabonese youth for sustainable development. It introduces young people to entrepreneurial concepts, helps them find an innovative business idea, gives them the tools to set up a business project and produces a coherent business model. More concretely, it intends to respond to the economic and social challenges faced by Gabonese youth. To stimulate the initiative of young people and give them the taste to undertake. To help them set up viable business projects. To meet professionals from the world of business. It also allows young people to have practical insights on how to start a business. Learn to interpret challenges and transform them into opportunities, which can be treated as innovative ideas. To this end, Junior Achievement has introduced financial literacy, employability and entrepreneurship programs through a national incubator to support young people wishing to have a good financial idea, a project, or those who are already in activity or looking for a job. Equipment is made available free of charge so that trained and incubated young people find the best conditions for work and creativity.

Similar programs have been tried in Gabon, including Graine, but the results are still limited. Entrepreneurship is not yet an integrated concept in the country?

In Gabon, young people were not the group most likely to start their own businesses because of their lack of experience and financial resources, but it is clear that many are seriously considering this possibility. The crisis in our country has created a natural shock for young people. Many have understood that the struggle for existence is advantageous to the fittest. It seems hard to say it like that, but this crisis naturally caused a rupture in the young Gabonese. This was important because it fostered young people’s interest in entrepreneurship and initiative.

What role can and should the private sector play in this regard?

Entrepreneurship can play an important role in the economic growth of our country, but to achieve this goal, governments and decision-makers need to focus on key issues such as promoting entrepreneurship, creating an enabling environment for business start-ups, facilitating access to finance and ensuring the follow-up of companies. By promoting entrepreneurship, we understand the popularization of the phenomenon and the encouragement of the spirit of entrepreneurship. This requires the implementation of integrated strategies for young people, including, among other things, improving their participation in decision-making.

More generally, how can training be tailored to the market needs in Gabon? School curricula in Gabon and elsewhere in Africa are adapted to the French model and are not always linked to the realities and new challenges of the continent.

Even if the Gabonese youth must open up to the world, they must learn to take into account their environment and their particularities in order to face the new challenges of the moment. They must always question their future and live the present by being a dignified partner, capable of working for his country. De-constructing mentalities requires a change in behavior which consists in definitively breaking with the way of thinking, production and consumption of the model or the dominant referent. Since training is insurance for the future, young people must choose the most useful and the most adapted tools to have access to the world of employment. This choice not only applies to schoolchildren but also to other young people because it is often said that “training does not  finish and has no age”

For more information: http://www.jagabon.org/

Interview by DBM

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