You are here

Conference on Youth Employment in Migration Countries - report

Explosive population growth and rising youth unemployment in Africa call for improvements in education and an increase in employment opportunities in that continent. This was the argument put forward by Director General of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Christiaan Rebergen, during the conference on Youth Employment in Migration Countries. The conference was organised by PUM to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organisation.

As Christiaan Rebergen stated, “PUM implements the Ministry’s Aid & Trade agenda in the form of knowledge sharing and trading activities. Mr Rebergen emphasized that this approach works because it ties in perfectly with the best of what Dutch society has to offer: entrepreneurship, business and industry, knowledge and experience. In the new policy of the Ministry which has not yet been presented presented, work will be the central point of focus, in particular work for young people. Within such themes as poverty, instability and migration, youth unemployment plays a key role. The expected explosive growth in the young population of Africa is another of the major challenges currently facing us. PUM can assist in generating more employment opportunities and by improving (vocational) education. The current focus at PUM and its programme-based work approach in collaboration with other parties put the organisation in the ideal position to achieve optimum impact.”

Chairman of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (known as VNO-NCW) and PUM, Hans de Boer, expressed his pride with the achievements of PUM over the last 40 years, and expressed high expectations for the future. In Hans the Boer’s own words, “With a sense of enlightened self interest, the Netherlands must take the lead in ensuring that Africa recognises and is able to create its own future. PUM plays an active role in activating and maintaining the position of business and industry in Africa.  The Netherlands has traditionally been an international trading nation, subject to ever expanding parameters, including IMVO covenants and sustainable development goals. This capacity reflects the solidity of the Dutch economy, which can serve as a valuable example for other countries. PUM experts help spread that example.

Population growth, youth unemployment and the low level of education in Africa all call for a hands-on approach. The entrepreneurial climate in Africa must become an investment climate so that not only public funds but to a crucial degree private funds can deliver a boost to the economy. Young people are the future and must be closely involved in these processes; both on the supply and the demand side.

PUM has demonstrated that the entrepreneurial climate can be improved through the transfer of knowledge and skills. Examples include the Clean Ganga project in India, where in collaboration with Stahl and Solidaridad, pollution levels in the Ganges caused by leather tanneries are being reduced, and the Vietnam Climate Innovation Center, where start-ups are successfully encouraged to take their first steps in the world of business. The volunteers and the formula employed by PUM prepare the way and play an important role in approaching the future, by tackling the broad spectrum of problems in migration countries.”

The conference was chaired by Marije Balt, former diplomat and expert in post-conflict situations in Africa. She emphasized the importance of practical support such as that provided to entrepreneurs by PUM. She also asked the question: does a rise in the number of start-ups encourage young people to remain in a country?

Speaker Ton Dietz, Professor of African Development Studies at the University of Leiden gave a surprising answer. He argued that research by the African Studies Centre in Leiden reveals that it is an illusion to believe that growing employment opportunities and high prosperity levels lead to less migration. One of the reasons is the fact that it is specifically their aspirations and improved capacities that encourage many young Africans to (e)migrate. At the same time, parents continue to play an important role in their development.

Wim Bredewold shared his experiences as a PUM expert in establishing a new technical vocational study programme in Arusha, Tanzania, where in a series of PUM missions a training institute was successfully established, equipped and provided with the necessary content support.

Ankie van Wersch and Frederiek Doedijns presented Enviu; a business that assists companies worldwide in the practice of corporate social responsibility and promotes positive social change. In the Netherlands, for example, they made it possible for one inland shipping vessel to run on hydrogen, and established a sustainable clothing brand in India. Over a period of two years, Enviu has helped to create more than 500 jobs. The best results have been achieved through a small-scale approach, and individual counselling.

PUM expert Henny van Vliet talked about the importance of incubators for the economy. PUM supports incubator centres at various levels, ranging from initial set up, via running the centres (train-the-trainer), through to offering advice the start-ups that participate in the incubator centre.

Andy Wehkamp, director of Advisory Services at PUM ended the conference with an announcement that PUM has received additional funding that will be put to work within the themes discussed at the conference, including youth employment, incubators, vocational education, IMVO covenants, programmes, the contribution of diaspora and access to financing. In all of these areas, PUM is looking  to cooperate with new partners. Relevant parties should contact PUM via their established contact person at the organisation or via

More photographs of the conference will be published on our Facebook page