Papua New Guinea: Giving Urban Youth a Second Chance

May 13, 2016

Like many others in the capital Port Moresby, after Lawrence left school, finding a job was very difficult. To get by, he turned to petty street crimes. When Lawrence joined the World Bank and Australian Government-supported Urban Youth Employment Program (UYEP), his life changed direction.

Unemployment of young people in urban areas is one of the biggest development challenges faced by Papua New Guinea (PNG). A World Bank-supported project is helping youth in the capital of Port Moresby by providing training and employment opportunities to give them a leg up in life.


Young people account for almost half the population of PNG, and comprise a large part of the urban poor. In the PNG capital, Port Moresby, there are more than 40,000 unemployed young people, many have missed out on completing their education due to their life circumstances and do not have the necessary skills for entry-level jobs. Long-term unemployed young people often find themselves involved in petty crime to support their daily living.


To provide new opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Port Moresby, the Urban Youth Employment Project is providing training to improve young people’s chances of obtaining jobs. The project is also helping provide short-term jobs to help urban youth obtain income and employment experience.


Since it began in 2011, more than 8,000 young people have participated in the project, 40% of them women. They have completed more than 360,000 combined work days, and 35% of young people who have graduated from the project’s on-the-job training program have then gone on to receive an offer of a paid job.


When Kandiye’s husband remarried and left her, taking their children, she was emotionally and physically affected. Through the World Bank and Australian Government-supported Urban Youth Employment Project (UYEP), she was able to earn a job placement with a Papua New Guinea refrigeration company. Through hard work and tenacity, Kandiye eventually became a full-time staff member and now has enough income to support her children.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank Group’s IDA contributes $15 million for the project.


Partners involved with the project include the Government of Korea which has contributed $0.6 million. In March 2016, the Australian Government provided additional financing of $10.8 million to extend the project until the end of 2018. The project’s main implementing agency is the National Capital District Commission of Papua New Guinea.

Moving Forward

The additional funding and expansion of UYEP will ensure the project can open opportunities for up to 15,000 unemployed young people by 2018 to help them find positive long-term employment.


Like many young people in the capital Port Moresby, after Lawrence Kerry left school, finding a job was very difficult. To get by, he turned to petty street crime.

When Lawrence joined UYEP, his life changed direction. “When I first registered my name, I felt a sense of belonging. I don’t want to go back to what I was doing before, doing nothing and socializing with the street boys. I’ve got my dream.”