Yaounde: Digital platform to facilitate access to jobs for refugee graduates launched.
An online platform to facilitate access to job opportunities for young refugee graduates resident in Cameroon has been launched in Yaounde.
Dubbed “Opportunities for Refugees”, the platform was launched Friday, November 17, 2023, by the Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Issa Tchiroma Bakary.
It has as goal to bridge the gap between refugee graduates and the job market by connecting them with job openings, creating networking opportunities with potential employers and funding opportunities.
The platform, it should be said, is part of the implementation of Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative dubbed DAFI Scholarship Programme. It offers deserving refugee students the opportunity to pursue higher education in their host country.
The DAFI Scholarship Programme has been implemented in Cameroon since 2002 by UNHCR, in line with its actions to strengthen partnerships and find solutions that allow refugees contribute to the economy and development of Cameroon.
The digital platform was created by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, in collaboration with its education partner, Plan International Cameroon, that has been implementing the programme in the country since 2016.
Designed by the Cameroon Youth School Tech Incubator, CAYSTI, the launching was attended by UNHCR and Plan International Cameroon officials. Representatives of ministries, Members of Parliament, and a cross section stakeholders and beneficiaries of DAFI Scholarship witness the ceremony.
The DAFI Programme has since 2002, provided the Cameroonian job market with an average of 25 young refugee graduates per year from Cameroon's universities and private institutes of higher education.
According to data collected from 115 refugee graduates in 2022, only 19 (five females and 14 males) or 16% have managed to secure contractual employment in the country.
Only one per cent of over 220,000 refugees above 18 years have university degrees in the country.
A smaller percentage of the number have formal employment despite the government’s inclusive policy enshrined in the 2005 law defining the status of refugees in Cameroon, which grants refugees the same rights to work as nationals.
Minister Issa Tchiroma used the occasion of the launching to laud UNHCR and partner organisations for their multiform actions taken to support government accompany refugees in the country.
He said the digital platform will help curb unemployment and impoverishment of young refugee graduates and contribute towards promoting their socio-professional integration, in line with a 2021 partnership agreement which his ministry, the UNHCR and the International Labour Organisation, signed.
Tchiroma said the concerns of refugees remain priority to President Paul Biya. He appealed to all bilateral and multilateral partners not to relent in accompanying government to support to refugees in the country.
Enter UNHCR Cameroon Representative
Speaking at the ceremony, UNHCR Cameroon Representative, Olivier Guillaume Beer, said the online tool will allow employers in need of manpower to have a specific profile for refugees.
He said the platform will permit refugees to have access to job opportunities which they hitherto didn’t have access to.
“This will allow them to be employed, to work and maybe to have more jobs which are formal instead of working in the informal sector,” Olivier Beer said.
L-R: Plan Int’l Cameroon Country Director, Minister Issa Tchiroma & UNHCR Representative
Enter Plan Int’l Cameroon boss
On his part, Plan International Cameroon Country Director, Mohamed Bah, described the platform as an innovative approach to sustainable solutions on the empowerment of refugees to enable them live dignified lives.
Bah said his organisation has since 2016, jealously guarded its partnership with the UNHCR for the implementation of the DAFI Programme.
The digital platform, he said, will facilitate the empowerment of refugee graduates by improving their employability and integration into the economic and social fabric.
“…it will make it possible to put the skills of refugee graduates online. It will also facilitate contacts between employers and refugee graduates, and enable young refugees graduating from universities and vocational training schools to benefit from internships, jobs and funding opportunities to enhance their employability,” he said.
The platform, Bah added, will also be a tool for driving forward government’s vision for youth employment, in line with the National Development Strategy, SND30.
Bah encouraged the private sector to play an active role in promoting decent jobs and reducing unemployment among refugee graduates and strengthen their participation in the development of the national economy.
He sounded upbeat that despite challenges, the combined will, resilience and self-sacrifice of all and sundry will make "Opportunities for Refugees" a model integration tool for young refugee graduates looking for internships, jobs or financing.
Bah reiterated Plan International Cameroon's commitment to continue supporting government in its efforts to develop and integrate the most vulnerable sectors of society, particularly young refugees, so that no one is left behind.
Refugees hail digital platform
Central African Republic refugee, Hafizou Hamadou, who is a PhD student at the University of Yaounde II, saluted UNHCR and Plan International for creating the platform which he said will be of great help to all refugees and enable them bring their expertise to the fore in the job market.
On her part, Halime, a Chadian Refugee student studying General Administration at the National School of Administration and Magistracy, ENAM, said the platform will help surmount challenges faced in accessing jobs.
The refugees thanked government for its hospitality and for the assistance from UNHCR and its partners.