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We work to empower people to take greater control of their own lives, so they have the skills needed to attain secure, decent incomes and fulfilling employment opportunities. 

Central to our approach is empowering people, developing confidence, and supporting them to build the basic assets needed to develop resilient livelihoods.

The issue

There are a number of barriers facing youths that make it harder to get employment or to set up and grow small enterprises. These barriers make it difficult for youths to make decisions and act. This results in less effective employment and business opportunities for youths. 

The number of youths is increasing rapidly.  Africa is a young continent, with youth comprising more than a third (34.2%) of the total population. This is the only region in the world today whose labour force is expanding rapidly. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for women (7.5%) is higher than for men (6.3%).

VSO is addressing these barriers with the Youth Empowerment, Green Jobs and Decent Work global programme, with an objective of ensuring successful youth transition to decent green jobs. Our priority is to empower young people and ensure they have access to better jobs, that are green, decent and contribute to environmental and biodiversity conservation.

Developing practical skills 

We work closely with vocational training institutes to deliver recognised, relevant training that people value, including levels 1-3 of international qualifications from City & Guilds and Pearson, and building teacher capacity with practical training and coaching. We also help to facilitate vocational outreach work, such as on-the-job vocational studies and training, and train-the-trainer approaches where young people take training out into rural areas.  

Nurturing the entrepreneurs of tomorrow 

We’re also creating opportunities for young people to nurture entrepreneurial ability, engaging small businesses and major private sector firms to create jobs for young people, and addressing stereotypes and traditional thinking that harms youth chances. 

Soft skills for the changing world of work 

Technology and the digital economy are shaping how and where we work, and these skills we need. We recognise that this creates both opportunities and threats. 

We support people to develop the skills they need to thrive in the changing world of work, including how to work with new technologies, how to adapt and stay relevant in the face of change, and how to build successful relationships.