USAID/Djibouti launched a five-year (2016-2021) $24,985,000 million Workforce Development Project intended to reduce unemployment in Djibouti by improving workforce readiness and competitiveness based on market needs. The request for this project came directly at the behest of President Guelleh during negotiations with the USG over the lease for Camp Lemonnier.
The project is consistent with Mission Objective 2 of the USG Development Assistance Strategy (DAS) for Djibouti (2015-2017): A More Engaged Private Sector Leads to Increased growth and Diversification of Djibouti’s Economy which stresses the importance of preparing the Djiboutian workforce to meet the needs of an evolving labor market that requires 21st century capabilities. The project purpose is Active members of the Djiboutian workforce increased. In order to strengthen the workforce to meet the needs of a modern labor market, USAID’s Workforce Development (WFD) Project will focus on (i) expanding quality vocational workforce readiness programs, (ii) developing sustainable productive linkages between public vocational/technical education and training (TVETs) institutions employment providers, and (iii) strengthening job placement, retention and advancement services.
Economic growth funds in support of this project are drawn from Fiscal Years (FYs) 2013 – 2015 with additional funding to be requested for FYs 2017– 2019.
Problem Statement and Major Issues:
Djibouti has a chronic dearth of educated, technically and professionally trained young men and women to compete for and obtain the jobs that are needed to meet the country’s expanding economic development.
An unemployment rate of nearly 60% continues to be a major problem. Djibouti’s reliance on diesel-generated electricity and imported food and water leave average consumers vulnerable to global price shocks. The government has emphasized infrastructure development for transportation and energy and Djibouti – with the help of foreign partners – has begun to increase and modernize its port capacity. Due to the presence of the port industry, there are a number of opportunities for employment in that sector, as well as in related (i.e., transportation, logistics, etc.) areas. However, due to lack of workforce readiness, many of the jobs are either filled by foreigners or remain unfilled.
The core issue identified in diagnostic studies, particularly USAID’s Workforce Assessment1, conducted during 2014, is that there is a fundamental mismatch between the level of skills and expertise and, to a certain extent, the types of expertise available in the local labor market and what the labor market requires.
1USAID has collaborated with the GODJ in conducting an assessment of Djibouti’s evolving labor market, the skill sets it demands from workers, and the extent to which the vocational education systems and labor regime are providing workers prepared for this new economy. The assessment was conducted in country during April-May, 2014, the results of which detail workforce needs to be addressed in this project.