Building an inclusive data ecosystem

A holistic approach to addressing the labor market data gap in Ethiopia

All over the world, governments today struggle to address the challenge of unemployment, provide safer working environments, and create equal opportunities for the employed to grow.

All over the world, governments today struggle to address the challenge of unemployment, provide safer working environments, and create equal opportunities for the employed to grow.

With Ethiopia facing the same struggle of addressing their employment crisis, the Jobs Creation Commission partnered with Dalberg Data Insights to build an inclusive data ecosystem that aims to drive better policy and decision making related to the labor market and foster the link between labor demand and supply. 

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Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa with over 112 million people.  

Of that fraction, 40% of them are currently underemployed – employment where the job does not use the worker’s skills, is part-time, or leaves the worker idle.

Only 53% of them are actively employed in the labor market. 

This indicates that although Ethiopia’s population has been increasingly more educated throughout the past decades, many struggle to find relevant jobs and often don’t work at their fullest potential.  

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The nation’s expanding youth population also faces a 25% unemployment rate, illustrating the challenges encountered when entering a labor market whose demands don’t match the supply.  

Significant gender-based differences also prevail both in urban and rural areas, making it increasingly difficult for women to obtain the necessary skillset for employment.  

However, assessing these quantitative elements of the labor market isn’t enough for development actors to understand the true aspirations of the people of Ethiopia.

Qualitative profiling is key to analyzing the barriers encountered during the employment journey.  

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This is Maskram from rural Ethiopia. She faced the sudden burden of supporting her children and being financially independent when her husband unexpectedly died of illness.

After building her home from savings, she continued farming while trying to diversify her work opportunities to make ends meet.

Maskram is not alone. She is one of many trying to find stable job opportunities in a country that is struggling to address its employment crisis.  

So how can people like Maskram be better supported in their employment journey? Which systems need to be put into place for easier access to the job opportunities available in her environment?  

The Ethiopian Jobs Creation Commission (JCC) was created to facilitate the creation of 3 million jobs by 2020, 14 million by 2025, and 20 million by 2030.

Effective policy-making and intervention planning require a detailed overview of the labor market – something previously inaccessible to the Ethiopian government.

But in order to achieve this, they need accurate, granular, and timely data-driven insights to better understand the drivers, barriers, needs, and aspirations of the people of Ethiopia.

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Last year, the JCC teamed up with Dalberg and Mastercard Foundation to build a labor market data ecosystem.

This ecosystem aims at fostering both data-driven policy and decision making related to the labor market, as well as linking more effectively the labor demand and supply. 

Building the Labor Market Ecosystem



This inclusive data ecosystem consists of three pillars, specifically, the community, governance, and technical pillars.

The community pillar involves the engagement of different stakeholders within the ecosystem:

  • job seekers
  • employers
  • public institutions
  • relevant Ethiopian ministries
  • private companies providing services that foster the link between the labor demand and supply 

The governance pillar then applies the regulations, processes, and standards ensuring an effective collaboration between the different members of the community.

This is crucial during the data-sharing process among data holders to ensure accountability and protect the sustainability of the insights.

And finally, the technical pillar contains the data, algorithms, and infrastructures used to generate insights and provide services based on the data.

Dalberg Data Insights and the Jobs Creation Commission developed the Labor Market Information System portal, an interface gathering multiple data sources to paint an accurate picture of the labor market.

By understanding the forces influencing the supply and demand of the labor market, government officials can answer questions such as:


Is gender a determining factor when it comes to employment prospects?

Is gender a determining factor when it comes to employment prospects?

What’s the state of Ethiopia’s agriculture sector and how are farmers faring?

How do migrants handle finding job opportunities in Ethiopia? 

The Labor Market Information System serves as a tool to better understand the challenges Maskram faces, but also quantitatively assessing the context around her situation.

For example, when seeking to better understand the employment journey of women like Maskram living in rural areas of Ethiopia, the insights section illustrates the significant gender gap they face when entering the labor market.  

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of WOMEN perform unpaid work


of MEN perform unpaid work

compared to

Cultural forces influence how likely a woman will be in performing unpaid work in rural areas,

with this number varying depending on the region within Ethiopia.

Agriculture accounts for the main source of livelihood for the majority of Ethiopia’s working population – yet the harsh reality for women in this sector involves unpaid labor for their efforts.

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Digitally empowering the Jobs Creation Commission provides these key stakeholders a more insightful overview of the current labor market status, but also eases the employment journey for workers, employers, and labor market intermediaries.

Thanks to this inclusive data ecosystem, Ethiopia’s government could support Maskram by better informing public employment services on sector trends and skillsets required for her employment journey, offering her a far more targeted approach towards developing her career. Dreaming of working in the public sector, Maskram can finally receive data-driven career counseling to achieve a more stable future for her and her children.

With 2 million people entering the labor market every year in Ethiopia, facing challenges similar to Maskram's, the dissemination of accurate data-driven insights remains crucial for addressing the employment crisis. Hence, a sustainable labor market data ecosystem remains a priority for Ethiopia.

Effectively defining the governance, technical, and community pillars for capturing and producing data insights will determine the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem. With the right insights, government officials can better target their initiatives, supporting people like Maskram throughout their employment journey, and offering more opportunities for Ethiopians to work at their fullest potential.

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