Youth Empowerment and Employment Programme

What is the programme about?

Youth Empowerment Sheku Kamara, a graduate of the Business Development Services Center in Makeni City turns domestic and industrial waste into energy-efficient cooking fuel. (UNDP/ J. Terry)

Youth, defined in Sierra Leone as people aged 15 to 35, account for approximately one-third of the national population. Today, youth face a daunting challenge: securing decent employment in an economic context characterized by a lack of job opportunities, especially in rural areas. A range of other issues further exacerbate the low demand for labour in Sierra Leone, including the limited work experience and educational levels of many youth. The youth employment challenge has been prioritized by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and is central to its national development agenda in both the Agenda for Change (2008 - 2012) and the forthcoming Agenda for Prosperity (2013 - 2017).

The Youth Employment and Empowerment Programme (YEEP), initiated in 2011, builds on UNDP’s extensive post-war experience supporting the empowerment of Sierra Leone’s youth. It is designed to strengthen national policy, strategy and coordination for youth employment and seeks to provide basic support services for youth across the country, including business development and career advice and guidance. The Programme is focused on three key components:

  1. Institutional and Policy Development: Focused on building sufficient technical capacity of the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA) and the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) to facilitate policy development, ensuring that relevant policies are coherent and harmonised and have a positive impact on employment creation.
  2. Youth Empowerment: Focused on promoting youth empowerment and leadership, primarily through the strengthening of Chiefdom and District Youth Councils.
  3. Employment Promotion: Focused on assisting youth in their transition from school to work through the provision of employment promotion services such as internship opportunities and support to micro, small and medium-sized business development.

Accomplishments so far

The Programme has achieved the following key results since 2011, amongst others:

  • UNDP’s leading role in youth entrepreneurship and job creation initiatives include the formulation of the Business Development Service (BDS) vision and operational framework which spearheaded the establishment of five BDS Centres in Freetown, Newton, Bo, Kenema and Makeni. The Centres act as a hub for market information gathering, the provision of functional entrepreneurship trainings and mentorship and coaching services, and pro-bono legal support. The Centres also help young entrepreneurs to access finance. Approximately 850 youths (48% of which are female) have been trained at the BDS Centres. Around 359 businesses have been expanded as a result of this support. 108 of the expanded business have been registered with government business registration authorities including the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT).  204 new jobs were created as a result of the expansion and establishment of new businesses.
  • 200 youth-led businesses were also assisted to develop their enterprises through business management skills and entrepreneurship trainings led by technical coaches and advisor.
  • 400 youth, 50% of whom are women, were supported through training, the supply of inputs and extension services to establish their own agri-businesses.
  • Career Advisory and Placement Service Centres were established at Njala University (Bo and Njala), Fourah Bay College (Freetown) and at Northern Polytechnic (Makeni) and Eastern Polytechnic (Kenema), supporting the empowerment of young people to achieve lifelong success through access to transformative global experiences and job seeking soft skills and comprehensive career services that help facilitate the transition from training to employment was
  • A Graduate Internship Programme (GIP) was designed and implemented to assist youth who lack work experience, a major obstacle for job-seeking graduates. The GIP was piloted in 2012 for eligible tertiary education institution graduates and resulted in the successful placement of 150 interns (44% female and 56% male) in 20 different types of agencies. 49% of the institutions which hosted the interns were in the private sector, 20% were in the public sector and 31% were Civil Society Organizations and UN agencies.
  • The final draft of the National Youth Service framework, designed to enhance national cohesion, provide opportunities for young people to contribute civic service and gain valuable work experience, is ready for final consultations and validation. From the framework, the National Youth Service Programme will be developed and piloted.

Who finances it?

Year Donor Amount Contributed
2011 UNDP US$ 776,615
2012 UNDP US$ 2,330,331
2013 UNDP US$ 1,200,000
2014 UNDP US $ 1,000,000
2015 UNDP US $ 1,071,023
2016 UNDP US$     576,284

Delivery in previous fiscal years

Year Total Delivery
2011 US$ 772,652
2012 US$ 2,231,781
2013 US$ 1,200,000
2014 US$ 1,000,000
2015 UN$ 1,002,787

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