South Sudan youth employment targeted to rise through EMPOWER project

Report
from Norwegian Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, BBC Media Action
Published on 12 Oct 2018

New project gives vocational training, education and small business support to 4,400 youth.

"The youth of South Sudan are a huge untapped potential. They must be supported to access job training, employment and businesses opportunities. The EMPOWER project will bring new opportunities to thousands of youth that are eager to learn, work and build for the future," said Rehana Zawar, Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

South Sudanese youth have a strong desire for education and self-improvement, and over 4,400 youth will receive vocational training, through a new European Union funded project called EMPOWER. The project will give young people education and training that will lead to jobs in agriculture, construction, hospitality, tailoring, dress making, solar power systems, auto mechanics and beautician skills among others. The project includes 2,000 apprenticeships. Over 350 youth businesses will receive funding and mentoring support to start-up or strengthen their businesses. 40 youth groups will be supported to produce and sell seeds. Over 20 civil society organisations, including 5 radio station, will be supported with funding and mentoring through a project which will be launched in October.

The EMPOWER project's goal will be to increase youth employment and small business opportunities, and to train and improve civil society organisations to support these activities. Students will be from rural and urban areas, different education levels and from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. About one third of the students targeted will be vulnerable youth, and at least 40 per cent of the total participants will be female.

Initial findings from a recent study on the labour market conducted by EMPOWER and UNESCO across several states, which will soon be released, revealed that there is scope for several trades to expand in all markets surveyed. Across all locations, businesses want to expand, and consumers are in need of more and better quality products and services. Well trained youth will be key to fit the country's needs for skilled labour.

BBC Media Action will produce 24 radio shows, each in 4 local languages, during the programme to encourage participation, discuss youth employment and highlight the personal stories and progress of EMPOWER students.

"Despite the challenges they've faced in their lives, many young people remain motivated, and they have the right attitude to move ahead. The EMPOWER project will work hand-in-hand with local communities, youth, businesses, vocational training centres and teachers as well as local and national authorities. Together we will support these youth to benefit from the training and business opportunities, and help build a better future for South Sudan," said Zawar.

In addition to the trade skills offered, other education subjects available for all those enrolled includes: Life Skills, Literacy, Employability, and Business Management.

The project is being implemented in coordination with South Sudan authorities. Partner agencies for the programme include Norwegian Refugee Council, ACROSS, BBC Media, Finn Church Aid, Nile Hope, and Vocational Skills Development Organisation (VOSDO).