Youth unemployment is an urgent and complex challenge affecting society, the economy and governance globally. More than 600 million young people worldwide are currently not in education, employment or training and by 2030, one billion young people will be entering the labour market.
Some 90% of young people live in developing countries where many of them face a future of irregular and informal employment. Large numbers are either over- or under-qualified for the work they do and are paid below average wages.
Unemployment amongst young people creates immediate and long-term economic losses for individuals, their families and communities. With few economic opportunities, young people are more vulnerable to the effects of poverty, and social and political instability rises.
To address these critical issues, we are working with governments, international organisations and development organisations to increase and improve young people’s access to financial services, financial literacy and entrepreneurship and employment skills training.
Youth economic empowerment
For instance, working in collaboration with the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Youth Investment (GPYI), we have developed a comprehensive Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) approach to support young people to transition into decent work. YEE is aimed at working with governments, the private sector and civil society to remove barriers for young people and prepare them for work based on opportunities in the labour market. Depending on the context, this can include employability assessment, ICT training, gender equality, human and child rights, financial literacy and other life skills.
When needed, young people can also receive vocational training through a formal institution, by an employer or through an apprenticeship. Entrepreneurial youth, particularly in the informal economy, can build their business skills, their links to markets and access support such as from financial services and through mentoring.
Plan International is now building on this work through Youth Employment Solutions, a global programme aimed at leveraging relationships, in particular with the private sector, to increase opportunities to employ marginalised youth.
Case study: Youth training in Egypt
Plan International Egypt, through the Forsa programme, continues helping young adults to enter the labour market. On average, 80% of young people who graduate from this programme successfully get jobs. Female students represent more than 60% of participants enrolled and employed. Several changes were observed in youths’ attitudes and behaviours, including an increased sense of self-worth, motivation and thirst for learning. In cooperation with Cisco and the Ministry of Communications, Plan International also established two academies to reach out to marginalised youth and support them in preparation for the job market.
Case study: Solutions for youth unemployment in El Salvador
Plan International El Salvador works extensively on youth economic empowerment. One strand of their ‘Youth Employment Solutions’ approach rests on interaction with the business sector. This year, 33 companies joined in supporting this programme by hiring young people, facilitating opportunities for internships and providing scholarships for technical training. Cooperation agreements have been finalised, bringing in 28 new companies/business associations, and Plan International will soon sign an agreement with the Restaurant Association of El Salvador. Plan International El Salvador is also applying the cooperative model to youth mobilisation for small business development enabling aggregation of related youth businesses to increase self- support and future scale up.
Case study: Youth training in Uganda
Plan International Uganda concentrates on business development services and enterprise management skills. They provide basic enterprise start-up and management skills to new groups, and link mature saving groups to business development service providers (e.g. banks and financial institutions with a focus on agri-business and viable commercial enterprises). Plan International Uganda also explored closer links with the corporate world; they hosted a corporate sector engagement forum with over 60 private companies from financial, large scale supermarket outlets, universities, mills and factories, telecom, motor companies with wide participation from young people. This is a platform to explore opportunities and modalities of working with private local and international companies to support youth economic empowerment.