REPORT: Youth, Employment and Migration In Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa

Flora Vever, Camille Le Coz, Arezo Malakooti and Matthieu Dillais
Altai Consulting for IOM Somalia
Resource Type: 
Publication Date: 
Feb, 2016

This research project aims to study the relationship between youth, employment and migration, looking at three main questions: 1) Who constitutes the youth workforce in Somalia, and are these young people satisfied with their situation? 2) How can the economic situation of dissatisfied youth be explained: is the source of the problem structural (not enough demand), or does it result from frictions within the labour market? Can youth create their own job opportunities through entrepreneurship? 3) Does dissatisfaction with occupation and level of income, along with difficulties to navigate the job market, alone explain irregular migration amongst youth?


Nearly a third of the youth surveyed (33.7%) defined themselves as with a job, but they are usually in a situation of underemployment. These jobs are often part-time/occasional (35%) and nearly half of the employed youth (42%) have at least two simultaneous occupations. Uneducated youth, in particular IDPs, are the most affected by this issue. The average level of income for youth with an occupation is USD 190 per month.

14.3 per cent of the youth surveyed (or 30% of the active youth) reported to being unemployed, with a higher proportion of unemployed youth in Baidoa (24%) than in Kismayo (13%) and Mogadishu (6%). 72 per cent of the unemployed youth were actively looking for a job (shaqodoon), whereas the other 27 per cent reported feeling discouraged.

The majority of youth who have finished their studies are not satisfied with their current situation. They are discontent with their level of education (55%) and their current occupation (68%). They wish to be more educated and to have a trade (49%) or to be working with an NGO (23%). Many also expressed dissatisfaction with their salary, stating that they would need three times their current salary to meet all of their expenses – USD 520 per month on average. The majority of the youth feel that finding a more satisfactory job (80.5%) and earning a more satisfactory salary (76%) is possible in Somalia (as opposed to looking for it abroad).


The Somali economy has shown positive development over the last three years, since the end of Al Shabaab’s (AS’s) occupation of the main cities and the establishment of a government authority in Mogadishu. Companies have opened or reopened, and several private actors called this period a “revival”. This economy is very much oriented toward the construction sector (building and rebuilding infrastructure) and retail (answering primary needs). Other basic services, such as electricity, waste management and water, are becoming more widespread.

Nearly all of the employers surveyed were interested in hiring more staff in the middle term, from private sector actors to local non-governmental organizations (LNGOs) expecting more funding. Their optimism has not been translated into immediate waves of recruitments; it does not amount to an increase in labour opportunities in the immediate term, but it still bodes well for the future.

Interviews with private sector actors and youth revealed an increasing demand for educated staff, even for low-level jobs. In a competitive environment, Somalis with no education find themselves at a great disadvantage, and this tendency in turn effects a significant segment of the youth population that has not had the opportunity to go to school.

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Workforce Development