For many young people, the gap between education and employment can be a tough one. In many countries, supporting youth into employment remains a priority but much more needs to be done. For example, 2018 saw unemployment between those aged between 15 and 24 reach an all-time high of 38%.
Here at ICS, we understand the importance of helping young people all over the world gain the skills to overcome hurdles and successfully enter the workforce. From CV workshops in Cambodia to supporting young people enter vocational employment in Uganda, we look at three different ways ICS is helping tackle challenges in youth employability.
Cambodia’s CV workshop
Youth employment is a big priority within Cambodia, a country with one of the youngest populations in the world.
To be one of the 300,000-400,000 young people entering the jobs market every year, finding a job as a young Cambodian can undoubtedly be daunting. To tackle this issue, ICS volunteers are working to build youth economic empowerment, teaching young people business skills and helping them become more employable.
Khe Ouk, 25, volunteered with ICS last year working with secondary schools, helping young people develop CV-writing and employment skills. As someone who had struggled entering the job market himself due to stigma around disability, Ouk did not let it stop him and now has a Bachelor’s degree in law, at the University of Management and Economics in Battambang.
“We teach the students how to write CVs and support them with peer-education so that they can share what they are learning with other students. We work on both the planning and delivery of these workshops,” said Ouk.
Inclusive education for young Deaf people in Kenya
For many young deaf people in Kenya, access into the labour market is rarely an option. Because of stigma and shame surrounding deafness, deaf children are frequently kept at home without access to vital education.
To ensure a better chance of independence, ICS volunteers from the UK are working alongside deaf local volunteers in the Nandi region, where they are carrying out free sign language sessions and support classes for deaf children and their parents.
For Mohamed, 17, being deaf meant he felt excluded from education and his family, however, when he began attending Kapsabet School for the deaf in Nandi, he learnt sign language and is now excited for his future.
“I’m the only deaf person in my family. My other four family members are hearing. As a child, I could see what was happening around me but I couldn’t communicate with anyone,” said Mohamed.
“We had a group of deaf VSO ICS volunteers come to our school. They were from Kenya and the UK. They taught us about lots of different things, including mathematics and woodwork, and helped us to improve our Kenyan Sign Language. We discussed what we can do in the future. I felt really motivated when they were here,” he said.
With a promising education and confidence for his future, Mohamed now hopes that the skills his is learning with the ICS volunteers at school will land him an exciting job.
“In the future, I’d like to be a teacher, or maybe work for the government so that I can support disabled people. I don’t want to be complacent – I want to do things for disabled people. I’m motivated to serve other people.”
Harrison, 28, is a teacher at Mohamed’s school and is confident that his students’ access to education will be the gateway into employability.
“Disability is not inability. I want my students to work hard and emerge victorious, proving wrong the society that is undermining them.”
Matching youth with vocational employment in Uganda
Over three quarters of Ugandans are under 30. A country with such a huge youth population has the potential to lift the country out of poverty, however, the high levels of unemployment need to be lowered first.
The World Bank states that youth unemployment stands at a staggering 78%, with one of the causes being a severe mismatch of vocational and technical skills demanded by the industries growing in the country and the skills present in the youth population.
One way that ICS volunteers are tackling this issue in Uganda is by working alongside the VSO SCOPE project, to prepare youth in the Albertine Region for new opportunities to work in oil and gas and related sectors.
Whycliffe, 24, has been supported by VSO and ICS to be trained in and find vocational work. He now employs three other young people and dreams of volunteering to help other youth.
“In Uganda we have the problem of poverty. People here are struggling; they can’t take their children to school. I grew up in a slum where most of the youth are addicted to drugs because there is no employment. I was out on the streets looking for work, any work,” explained Whycliffe.
“I had been given an opportunity by St Joseph’s. That was a turning point in my life. I have gone from someone who was nothing, to earning at least 850,000 UGX [£168] per month from the work I’m getting,” he added.