Shaqo Abuur
Shaqo Abuur
Virtual job and skills platform for real-time data-based policy planning to mitigate unemployment in Somalia

Challenges

Somalia is home to the youngest population in Africa. 81.5 percent of the population is under the age of 35, with a youth unemployment rate (14 to 29) of 67 percent—one of the highest rates in the world. Women, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees are the most vulnerable communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recent research published by the Raagsan Policy Center. In addition, in Somalia, the informal economy dominates and recruiting and hiring practices are not transparent.

The Somalia National Development Plan explicitly emphasizes “sustainable, inclusive growth through the digital economy.” Yet, prior to this project, intelligence platforms did not exist in the country to connect young people and other vulnerable populations with skills providers, job providers, academia and policymakers.

Digital platforms can be extremely helpful in addressing the challenges of inequality and stigma by breaking down barriers to obtaining employment, especially those that youth and vulnerable groups face.  In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread adoption of work-from-home set ups and greater acceptance of virtual work and communications, a digital platform for skills seekers, job seekers and private sector engagement would allow Somalia to have a more resilient social economic response to some of the above challenges.

Such digital platforms help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), including 8.5 (full employment and decent work with equal pay) and 8.6 (promote youth employment, education and training) and SDG 4 (quality education).

Towards a Solution

Somalia and Bangladesh share similar contexts in youth unemployment with two million youth joining the labor force each year. To address these similar problems in Bangladesh, a recent government initiative, the National Intelligence for Skills, Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship (NISE), is a matchmaking platform for unemployed youth, skills service providers (public and private) and industries to minimize the supply-demand gap by facilitating market-driven skills development and offering increased access to decent work opportunities. For youth, NISE offers self-assessment, career counselling and guidance, information on occupation-based skills and the ability to apply online for courses, jobs and apprenticeships. For the skills service providers, the platform helps manage course enrollment mentors and monitors their skills development activities online. They may also obtain labour market information and forecasting of emerging job demands to identify market-driven occupations and establish industry linkages. For employers, NISE helps with advertising job vacancies targeting the right audience, attracting skilled youth and building up a supply-demand relationship with the skills providers so that information can be shared among them on emerging job opportunities, skilled human resources and market-driven skills. For decisionmakers, the NISE platform generates real-time data to help with data-driven planning and decision-making to address supply and demand gaps.

This platform in Bangladesh has made a significant contribution to mitigating youth unemployment and been acclaimed both nationally and globally. In 2020, NISE received the world’s most prestigious ICT award called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize in the e-employment category by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It was declared a best practice by the UNDP Chief Digital Office (CDO), also in 2020 (https://digitalx.undp.org/). 

Having seen the impacts of the NISE platform in Bangladesh and its prospects, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Somalia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Technology (MOCT) of Somalia, approached Bangladesh to customize the platform for Somalia’s context. To do this, the UNDP Chief Digital Office programme Digital X provided technical support and the a2i programme from Bangladesh shared knowledge and technical support. The name of the platform was localized to Shaqo Abuur, meaning “youth employment service.” The Shaqo Abuur platform was launched at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in 2021 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, by the Minister for Communications and Technology of Somalia and the State Minister of Bangladesh.

The first of its kind in Somalia, the digital platform is successfully connecting young Somali job seekers, job sites, training institutions, government, industries and academia with data intelligence and analytics. Shaqo Abuur creates a marketplace for youth and private sector companies and even reaches those in the regional and international diaspora interested in accessing the value-for-money Somali market of highly skilled professionals. The platform’s data-driven approach helps adapt and focus the growing number of IT and engineering training efforts to be more market-driven and builds a foundation for securing professional pathways for young Somalis going into digital jobs. Importantly, it addresses skills mismatches in the labour market, thus mitigating the country’s unemployment challenges. When youth are equipped with appropriate skills and training, they can secure decent and gainful employment, receive pay equal to their skillsets and ensure skilled and safe migration.

The platform has been identified by other southern countries for replication in their country’s context. For instance, UNDP Jordan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship in Jordan, is currently adopting the NISE platform to the national context with technical support from the UNDP Crisis Bureau.  

Contact Information

Mr. Sherif Eltokali, Innovation Specialist, Accelerator Lab, UNDP Somalia

Countries involved

Bangladesh, Somalia

Supported by

UNDP Chief Digital Office (CDO) and Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme Bangladesh, South-South Network for Public Service Innovation

Implementing Entities

MOCT Somalia, UNDP Somalia

Project Status

Completed

Project Period

5/2021 - 10/2021

URL of the practice

http://shaqoabuur.net/, https://digitalx.undp.org/

Primary SDG

08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Primary SDG Targets

8.5, 8.6

Secondary SDGs

04 - Quality Education

Secondary SDG Targets

4.3, 4.4, 4.5

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