Participants in the Youth@Work initiative in Solomon Islands are assisting with disaster relief following the recent flooding in Honiara and around Guadalcanal.
Organised in community groups and focusing on the hardest hit areas, young people are cleaning up, fixing water supplies and providing community service to help recover from what is being called the worst disaster in the country’s recent history.
Youth@Work youth have been provided with tools and transport to reach affected communities, where they have cleaned mud filled homes and dirty wells, cleared paths and roads full of flood debris and helped single moms and widows to repair their damaged homes.
The Youth@Work programme, a combined effort of Australian Aid, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Solomon Islands Government, provides practical work experience and mentoring to unemployed youth. Since it was established in 2012, the initiative has worked with over 800 youths and placed over 600 in internships.
Mia Rimon, Manager of SPC’s Solomon Islands Country Office, says that Youth@Work has demonstrated a way to dramatically reduce youth unemployment in Solomon Islands.
‘Youth are given opportunities for work experience, training and networking, and the exciting fact is that up to 40% of Y@W participants are able to find formal employment after their time with the programme finishes! We think this is due to the skills they gain, the confidence they build and the work ethic that our intense cross-training during the 20 weeks of the programme gives,’ she says.