Solomon Islands: Providing Training for Jobs and Employment to Honiara’s Urban Poor

April 16, 2016

In the midst of growing unemployment in the capital Honiara, a project is helping provide training and job opportunities for thousands of people, where half are women and youth.

World Bank Group

With few jobs available in the capital Honiara, a World Bank-supported project is proving new opportunities by providing training and short term jobs.


Just one-fifth of Solomon Islands - an estimated 50,000 people out of a working population of 250,000 – are employed in Solomon Islands’ formal economy. The rest of the population are engaged in subsistence agriculture with periodic cash incomes. Approximately 7,500 young people leave school to enter the workforce each year, yet only one in every six school leaver will find paid employment.

Women, in particular, are faced with significant obstacles in entering the formal workforce, and each year a growing number of people make their way from rural communities to urban and peri-urban centers, such as the Solomons’ capital, Honiara , in search of a job, with rural-urban migration growing at a steady pace of 4.4 percent over the past 10 years.

In addition, Solomon Islands’ overall population growth of 2.3% per year is outstripping job creation in the formal economy.



Almost 13 percent of Solomon Islanders are classified as ‘poor’ or living in poverty, with the highest rates in the country’s capital, Honiara. Youth unemployment and limited socio-economic opportunities are two of the key challenges facing the country.

In 2009, with the Solomon Islands recovering from a period of civil conflict known as The Tensions (1998-2003), the World Bank designed an employment project, focused on supporting poor communities in and around Honiara, which became the Rapid Employment Project.

By engaging young people and women in work and skills training, the project helped to mitigate the risks of renewed conflict, increasing the household incomes of many poor families and providing infrastructure for those living in vulnerable communities.



Through the provision of short term employment, women and vulnerable young men were able to increase their income levels. The project also improved their knowledge, experience and basic employment skills that are valued at the workplace and in society. People in these vulnerable communities now have better access to markets and services through climate resilient roads and infrastructure built as part of the project, which include roads, foot bridges and walkways.

" Now that I have a regular income, I make sure I manage it well. I save some of my pay for my son’s school fees, I put some of it into our staff savings club, and what’s left over I use for food and transport. "

Alison Lenga

A 28-year-old who after many years of looking for work now has her first formal job as an office cleaner and is the sole breadwinner for her family of three.


Since it began in 2010:

  • The Rapid Employment Project has provided training to more than 11,500 vulnerable youths and women, has generated more than 729,500 labor days, employed more than 12,600 of the most at-risk young people in the Solomons’ capital, Honiara,
  • More than US$3.2 million in wages have been paid to participants.
  • Of those that have participated, 58 percent have been either women or young people.
  • 15 percent of project participants have reported to have found long-term employment when surveyed six months after graduating from the project, 54 percent of which are women.
  • More than 61,500 community members are now benefiting from the infrastructure that has been built or repaired as part of the project, with more than 40 small access infrastructure such as concrete ladders, footpaths and pedestrian stream crossings completed by project participants.
  • More than 100 kilometers of roads have also been rehabilitated through the project.


World Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank Group’s IDA contributes USD $4.7 million for the project.


Other Partners

Partners supporting the project include the World Bank’s State and Peace Building Fund (SPF) contributing grant financing of $3.2 million, and the multi-agency supported Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), which has contributed a $3.3 million grant.


Moving Forward

The project is scheduled to finish in December 2018, with a second phase of the project being proposed for other urban centers in Solomon Islands.


Participant stories

In 2014, the city of Honiara experienced severe flash flooding, killing 22 and causing more than US$100 million in damages. The community infrastructure built with support from REP, such as footpaths, enabled many communities to escape flooded areas quickly.

“Usually the walking track is too muddy and unusable in wet weather, but with the new footpath families [were] able to move to higher ground for shelter at a nearby school,” said Koa Hill community leader Simon Peter.

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2017

> 11,500
youth and women has received on the job training