Despite efforts of host governments and international organizations, displacement is, for those who survive conflict and disasters, a highly traumatic experience, especially for young people. They may feel disenfranchised and resentful and dream of revenge – plotting the conflicts of tomorrow. They run the risk of becoming a “lost generation.”
High and persistent youth unemployment only reinforces fragility. IFC’s approach to supporting youth employment in fragile and conflict-affected countries is to help tackle structural issues in those economies, through an innovative ‘fragility and conflict lens. The scourge of high youth unemployment is a source of deep pain to economies and societies around the world.
The war in Syria will end. We don’t know when, but when it does, the challenge of rebuilding this once proud and beautiful country will rest firmly on the shoulders of the children of Syria – the next generation. But with the level of damage it has sustained over the last six years – to its infrastructure, its schools, and its hearts and minds – how do we stop Syria’s next generation from losing their way? During the post-conflict period of regeneration, youth employment will be key.
The demographic dividend has been touted as a potential source of growth for the African continent and its relatively young population. In the same vein, it comes with the challenge of employment creation that can absorb the large cohort of youth that is set to enter sub-Saharan
Africa’s labor markets in the approaching decades. Less positively, however, countries that fail to plan accordingly might miss these potential opportunities or the resulting youth bulge could increase the risk of social tension and other risks arising from high youth unemployment rates.
Emerging economies within fragile environments hinge upon youth having the right kinds of technical and work readiness skills to secure meaningful, well-paid work and in turn contribute to family livelihoods. Throughout the world, EDC’s youth programs have helped young people succeed in jobs, entrepreneurship, and on-going career learning through programs that connect young people with skills training and employers.
There was silence in the room. No one seemed to want to speak up. I asked again: “what are the most important challenges that you face every day?” Suba, a young woman in her early 20s living in Tripoli, one of the regions with the highest poverty levels and concentration of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, finally raised her hand and said: “We are unemployed and have no access to basic services. We are sympathetic to the Syrian refugee cause. However, they are taking our jobs.
Jordan is hosting one of the largest populations of Syrians in the region – more than 650,000 people, of which 28% are between the ages of 11 and 25. This refugee population faces severe challenges. A staggering 93% of refugees living outside the camps are under the Jordanian poverty line. Most are living in host communities absent strong family and social networks. Syrians also face tensions with Jordanians in host communities that are competing for scarce resources ranging from access to water, jobs and education.
The Mali Out of School Youth Project (PAJE-Nieta) served remote areas like Timbuktu, providing entrepreneurship training and civic engagement to youth amid government instability. More than 88% of participants started micro businesses, most of which are still running today. Join us for a panel discussion about unique challenges and successes during the life of these projects.