Youth employment and empowerment in Sierra Leone

Jan 12, 2010

UNDP and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) have been supporting Sierra Leone's youths through a number of training courses that will improve their chances of obtaining a job. Through these initiatives, the youths gain valuable skills to seek employment and empower themselves.

These activities are essential to maintaining peace and stability in Sierra Leone. Fifteen- to 35-year-olds comprise 33 percent of the population but represent about 70 percent of the unemployed, according to the 2003 Population Census.

Many are either out of school or not working. By their early 20’s, one in three urban youths and one in six rural youths are unemployed. Official unemployment rates also fail to capture discouraged workers, high inactivity rates, underemployment and other factors.

A discussion in Makeni

A training programme known as TECVOC supports nine public and private vocational training centres nationwide through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

The Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrialization Center in Makeni, in the center of Sierra Leone, is one of the beneficiary institutions teaching youth participants in electronics, car mechanics, masonry, metal work, catering, agriculture, tailoring and carpentry.

One day in October, as part of a wider field visit by the UN, students in Makeni engaged in a lively discussion about their training activities. As a numerous onlookers peered through the windows of the crowded classroom, the students talked about their challenges and dreams of a better life when they would be able to earn a living with the skills they are acquiring.