Talk to Al Jazeera – When Taliban offer you gold: Afghan youth in crisis

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Among the hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Europe a significant number is made up of young men from Afghanistan. Last year, more than 100,000 Afghans fled to Europe and the exodus continues.

But why are so many Afghans leaving their home country?

In Kabul’s Kote Sangi neighbourhood, painters, carpenters, plasterers, and other manual workers sit outside waiting for someone to come by and hire them, even if only for a few hours.

This scene is replicated throughout the Afghan capital as thousands of casual workers hope to earn a dollar or more a day, the desperation etched on many faces. But their chances aren’t good. These men don’t have the family or the political connections often needed to get a job. And Afghanistan’s unemployment rate is estimated to be at 40 percent or higher.

Afghanistan’s economy still depends heavily on international aid and 61 percent of the country’s operating budget is funded by foreign donors.

The withdrawal of more than 100,000 NATO troops, and a scaling down of aid has shrunk the economy drastically. Building bases for the troops, staffing them, moving food and water to them, injected billions of dollars into the economy and employed tens of thousands of Afghans for years.

In response to the economic downturn, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has launched the National Employment Programme in November 2015 to give thousands of Afghans job opportunities.

But will he succeed? How do do young Afghans feel about their country’s economic future?

On this week’s Talk to Al Jazeera in the Field, we examine the job market in Afghanistan. How does it really work? And what jobs, if any, offer some kind of future for the young people who decide to stay in Afghanistan?

We talk to business leaders who are looking for workers; the head of one of Afghanistan’s biggest recruitment companies; and job seeker Abdel Fatah, who studied sociology at Kabul University and wants to stay and work in his country.

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