In Somalia, UNDP provides vital job-skills training for youth

12 Aug 2013

image Youth make up a majority of Somalia's population, and harnessing their potential through vocational training and entrepreneurship is part of UNDP's strategy in the country. (Photo: UNDP Somalia)

Somalia is at a crossroads where decades of one of the world’s most complex and protracted conflicts have shaped a country of stark contrasts. Youth have consistently borne the brunt of the protracted conflict and, today, 73 per cent of Somalia’s population is below the age of 30, and 42 per cent is between 14 and 29 years.

According to the 2012 Somalia Human Development Report entitled “Empowering Youth for Peace and Development,” the unemployment rate for youth aged 14 to 29 amounts to 67 per cent one of the highest in the world. The report, a research-based study produced by UNDP on the situation of young people in Somalia, finds that the majority of youth want access to a better education and to be included in economic and political spheres. Furthermore, it also finds that over 60 percent of youth intend to leave the country for better livelihood opportunities.

In line with the report’s recommendation to better prepare youth for the job market in Somalia, UNDP provides training and skills for sustainable livelihoods. In Hargeisa, UNDP supported new graduates in gaining experience with government institutions, while the institutions’ capacities benefited from these young graduates.

Warsan Adami, was unable to find a job after she graduated from University. But thanks to UNDP, she was assigned to the office of the Accountant General that provided her with invaluable experience which resulted in gainful employment.  

“I’m grateful UNDP made the path easier for me and gave me the chance to gain experience in the office of the Accountant General,” she says.  

In 2012, 120 youth in Somaliland received vocational trainings, ranging from computer skills to masonry, and 160 were trained in micro and small business management. In Garowe, Puntland, 320 young adults received similar vocational training, as well as 750 in Mogadishu, including 360 women. Within six months of graduation, 40 per cent were able to find employment, and another 30 per cent were able to establish service-providing micro-enterprises.

“Somali youth can bring change if they are educated. They can contribute to communities,” says Su’di Mohamed, a 21-year-old student who is completing her tertiary education in Garowe.

By increasingly engaging youth in productive entrepreneurships and activities, UNDP and the different federal ministries in Puntland and Somaliland have contributed to a significant increase in their income, thus supporting the reduction of poverty and conflicts.

“Harnessing the full potential of Somalia’s youth is the key to new dynamism and hope,” said UNDP Regional Director of the Bureau for Arab States, Sima Bahous, at the launch of the Somalia Human Development Report. Her words echo those of Deputy Minister for Finance and Planning Abukar Sheikh Abdi Ibrahim, who, speaking at the Somali Youth Day celebration in Mogadishu earlier this year, said “whenever we think about development we should think about empowering the youth. The youth can only work on the reconstruction and development of this country if we empower them.”