Addressing Youth Unemployment Through Private-Public Partnerships

The GRZ-UN Joint Programme on Youth, held a private sector breakfast meeting with key business leaders from various sectors, engaging in vibrant discussions and exploring opportunities for youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and employment in Zambia

February 9, 2024
Image of the Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts, the Permanent Secretary of Youth, Sports and Arts, and partners from the private sector and various UN agencies

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts, Hon Elvis Chishala Nkandu, with the Permanent Secretary of Youth, Sports and Arts, Mr Chileshe Kangwa, join the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Beatrice Mutali along with several UN Heads of Agencies and representatives from the Government and UNDP at an engagement meeting with the private sector

Images by: Cecilia Mubambe

Over 60% of Zambia’s population is under the age of 25 – they are young, capable, and eager to find decent work and contribute to their families’ livelihoods and to the development of their country. Yet, despite Zambia’s increase in economic growth (averaging 4.9% between 2011 and 2016, and 1.4% during the period 2017 and 2021) and its dynamic and youthful population, job creation has not kept up with the increasing number of young people entering the labour force each year. The Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Arts, has partnered with UN agencies in Zambia in line with its commitment in the 8th National Development Plan, tacking youth unemployment in the country.

“With such a youthful population as Zambia has, economic growth will hinge on empowering young people to create sustainable livelihoods, generate income and find their place in a local, national, regional and international ecosystem that supports their aspirations” – noted the Resident Coordinator for UN Zambia, Beatrice Mutali.

Since its launch in December 2022, the GRZ-UN Joint Programme on Youth – Phase 1, has been testing viable solutions to accelerate job creation and youth empowerment in Zambia. The programme saw the commissioning of a Youth Resource Centre in Mufumbwe, where ICT equipment worth approximately 2 million Kwacha was provided by UNDP. Additionally, through the Internship, Volunteer, Apprenticeship and Graduate (IVAG) programme, over 1500 young Zambians are employed within various government ministries, agencies, and departments and across various UN agencies in the country. These interns and graduates are gaining valuable, meaningful, and practical work experience and skills development from their host organisations.

An image of Hon Elvis C Nkandu, speaking at the Youth Private Sector Partnership Breakfast

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts, Hon Elvis Chishala Nkandu delivering his remarks at the Private Sector Breakfast Meeting

Image captured by: Cecilia Mubambe/UNDP Zambia
“I am happy to be part of the IVAG programme as I am learning a lot and able to support my family”
— shares Grace Mulenga, an intern placed in the District Administrative Office in Nakonde

Given the systems transformative approach that the programme has adopted, it is undeniable that engagement with all ecosystem actors is critical to its success.  Public-private partnerships are key to driving youth upskilling and employment and to scaling the success of initiatives such as the IVAG programme. As the engine of the economy, the private sector must be closely involved in youth empowerment activities to further Zambia’s development trajectory and to tap into the full potential of youth in the country. 

Speaking at a breakfast event held with the private sector to explore mutual interest areas regarding youth employability, the Honourable Minister for Youth, Sports, and Arts, Mr Elvis Chishala Nkandu, MP, noted:

“The private sector constitutes about 90% of employment opportunities on the African continent similarly for Zambia too. This is why the government of the Republic of Zambia values the role of the private sector in achieving sustainable development. We have seen how the private sector has been gradually expanding with an increased investment by local and international companies, financial institutions, bilateral partners, resulting in increased economic and employment opportunities in the country.”

During the private sector engagement meeting, Managing Directors, Chief Executive Officers, and other senior representatives from various private sector organisations, including Standard Chartered Bank, MTN Zambia, Umoyo Natural Health, SeedCo, Ecobank, Zamtel, Liquid Technologies, Choppies, 260 Brands, ABSA, Zambian Breweries, Prudential, Zanaco, CFAO and many others, led insightful and engaging discussions on key areas and approaches to enhance youth employment in Zambia.

The meeting ended on a high note with concrete pledges being made by the private sector to offer more internships as part of IVAG programme and to partner with the joint programme in various ways to enhance youth employability and enterprise development.

In his closing remarks at the private sector engagement meeting, James Wakiaga, the UNDP Resident Representative for Zambia highlighted, “With the support of each one of us, the impact and scale of this initiative can be multiplied”. He further encouraged the private sector to “join on this journey towards empowering the vibrant youth of this country.”