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Results Briefs June 18, 2019

Papua New Guinea: Giving Urban Youth a Second Chance

Unemployment of young people in urban areas is one of the biggest development challenges faced by Papua New Guinea (PNG). The World Bank-supported Urban Youth Employment Project, which is supported in partnership with the governments of Australia and Korea is helping youth in the capital of Port Moresby by providing training and employment opportunities to give them a leg up in life, so they can contribute to their communities and shape their own futures.


Young people account for almost half the population of PNG, and comprise a large part of the urban poor. In the capital, Port Moresby, youth unemployment is a major issue and 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 themselves.


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


By the end of 2018, UYEP had:

  • Provided more than 18,500 unemployed urban young people with income, training and temporary employment opportunities.
  • 41 percent of participants were young women. 
  • Screened more than 24,000 young people within PNG.
  • Established 18,000 new bank accounts.
  • Created approximately 815,000 labor days, including in many projects that have helped to improve community infrastructure throughout Port Moresby.


young people have participated in the project


Lawrence Kerry, Port Moresby

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 the Urban Youth Employment Project, 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.”


Reporting on Improvements

A Project Impact Evaluation Report from early 2019 showed that:

  • Nearly half (41 percent) of the participants who completed the On-the-Job Training reported that they had secured full-time or part-time work in the six months following their participation;
  • Employers reported that 97 percent of UYEP participants were qualified for full time work;

And communities have seen flow on benefits with 85 percent of community members in project locations believing crime and violence has reduced because of the project.

World Bank Group contribution

  • The World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) contributes $15 million to the Urban Youth Employment Project.


  • Between 2011 and 2018, the Australian Government provided a total of $10.8 million for UYEP.
  • Other partners involved with the project include the Government of Korea which has contributed $0.6 million, the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Bank of South Pacific, Exxon Mobil, and a large number of businesses in Port Moresby. 
  • The project is implemented by PNG’s National Capital District Commission.

Moving Forward

  • The additional funding and expansion of UYEP has allowed the project to open opportunities for more unemployed young people in Port Moresby to gain income, work experience, training and access to the formal banking system.
  • UYEP is now the Government of PNG’s most significant public intervention to address the issue of unemployed youth in the country.