Education and skills gap in the Pacific
Currently, the Pacific region experiences high youth unemployment and under employment, with estimates reaching up to 70 or 80 percent. Perhaps most troubling, studies indicate that an increasing number of urban youth in the Pacific are being marginalized. They endure inequality, exclusion and poverty and are vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse and involvement in crime and violence.
Many young people feel shut off from the jobs market. It is not simply that the jobs are not there. Employers report that they cannot fill available positions as candidates youth lack basic skills to engage in formal employment or have never had the opportunity to get work experience or training.
In Papua New Guinea, just a tiny fraction of the population have completed secondary school, with slightly higher figures for urban groups. Youth are therefore ill-equipped with the basic skills that are required to be productive and have limited pathways from school to work.
Providing a second chance for youth in Port Moresby
The World Bank has been working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to help provide young people with training, work experience and a stipend to help them overcome some of these constraints. The project’s basic skills and employment training as well as job intermediary services provides positive examples of services that may better enable Pacific youth to transition from school to work.
With the project scaling up of implementation, 3,000 applicants have been screened to participate in the program. When the project ends in 2016, it is expected that the project will benefit 10,500 disadvantaged, unemployed youth from the National Capital District area, with basic life skills for employment training, public works job placement and apprenticeships with various employers that are supporting the project.
About 30 of the most prominent business houses, hotel chains, manufacturers and construction companies as well as development organizations have active youth placements and the project expects this number to continue to grow.
Many young people hope that these types of initiatives will help increase their experience and knowledge of the workplace, employability, and make it easier for them to contribute to their families and communities.
“This was an opportunity for youth who are being given a second chance in life,” said Ruth, 24, who participated in recent training courses under the project.
It is also helping young people feel they can better integrate and make a difference in society. “We are hopeful that the skills and training will help us become good citizens,” said Joshua, 24.
Helping expand opportunities for young people remains a priority for the World Bank in the Pacific. The aim is to ensure youth can contribute to shaping their communities as well as being safer, happier and fulfilled so they can build positive, brighter Pacific futures.