A jobs fair held in Somalia with assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) could have been the first of what might become an annual event, according to the organisers.

Insecurity due to conflict and natural disasters are among the main drivers pushing Somalis into leaving the country, with Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Europe being some of the target destinations. However, many Somali migrants are also returning home, and the need to find work ranks among their major priorities.

The job fair was seen as part of the government’s plan to create 250,000 opportunities over five years, hence the intention to replicate it this year. The fair was held on 18 December, which is also International Migrants Day celebrated globally. It was jointly organised by the Federal Government of Somalia, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in collaboration with Hano Academy and Khibrad Recruitment Agency. Support came from the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (the EU-IOM Joint Initiative).

The job fair sought to explore how the government and the private sector can come together to create employment opportunities for Somali youth, many of whom also leave the country, sometimes irregularly, in search of work opportunities.

 The Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Sadik Warfa, said in his speech that “the government is committed to work with private sector and UN agencies to boost job opportunities for youth and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is ready to promote economic opportunity for all.”

More than 500 participants attended the fair, including representatives of business, universities, job placement agencies and training institutes.  Somali youth from different walks of life also took part, together with migrant returnees assisted through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.

A labour market assessment commissioned by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative last year found that while businesses in Somalia do not openly discriminate against migrant returnees, the lack of skills, experience and networks among many migrants are significant barriers to entering the labour market. Returnees are further disadvantaged by the often complicated procedures to take out a loan. 

Panel discussions at the fair focused on new employment opportunities for youth and returning migrants in Somalia. Career counsellors offered advice on ways to increase employability. Practical sessions in CV-writing were also offered.

Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, IOM also organized a movie screening at the Somali National University as part of the Global Migration Film Festival, which preceded International Migrant Day.

In Bossaso, International Migrants Day was celebrated through sport: Football matches were organised between migrants, returnees and host communities, contributing to social cohesion, which was chosen as the day’s theme. In Hargeisa, IOM Arranged a get-together that allowed returnees to share their experiences, and a movie screening took place in the evening.

 About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative

Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is the first comprehensive programme to bring African partner countries, IOM and the European Union together around the shared aim of better protecting migrants along key migration routes. It facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration.