Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Michael Johnson

Second Advisor

Francine Menashy

Third Advisor

Mark Warren


More than half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is 25 years of age or younger and during the next ten years, 12 million young Africans are expected to enter the labor market annually (World Bank, 2014; McCowan, 2014). In addition to sustaining an 8% annual growth rate in university enrollment over the past couple of years (UNESCO, 2010), Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce by the year 2040, outnumbering that of China and India (McCowan, 2014). Yet, high unemployment persists among university graduates. Part of the explanation for this is the lack of adequate training students receive (Elechi, 2013; McCowan, 2014). On the other hand, investment in higher education in Africa has been on the rise in the past few years (Kellogg and Hervy, 2010; Friesenhan, 2014). This interest for investing in the African higher education sector presents a great opportunity for African policymakers to identify solutions for critical policy issues such as the employability of university graduates. This doctoral dissertation explores this issue, focusing on the SSA country of Cameroon. The study utilizes policy documents, focus groups with students, and semi-structured interviews with four categories of respondents: employed graduates, unemployed graduates, employers, and university administrators/faculty/ policymakers. A total of four focus groups and 80 individual interviews were completed for this study. The study offers a framework for understanding and addressing the high level of university graduates’ unemployment in Cameroon. The lessons learned from the Cameroonian context will provide valuable insights to African policymakers, enabling them to harness their increased labor force through improved policy planning in higher education institutions. Furthermore, the international development community and education donors will find much interest in the findings gleaned through this study.


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