Productive work for youth

Switch on your future: UNIDO programme for productive work for youth

Globally, 9 out of 10 jobs are created by the private sector, a primary driver of economic growth and employment creation. By February 2014, over 600 million young women and men aged 15 to 24 years are neither in school or receiving training,  working or looking for work; over 70 million young women and men are unemployed, and an estimated additional 73.4 million young people worldwide are expected to be out of work.

To achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development it is thus necessary to invest in a growth-oriented private sector, in its supporting business structures, the civil society and ultimately in young women and men, who often push society’s socio-economic development and innovation.

At present, young women and men in many countries face numerous obstacles to engage in productive activities: they find it difficult to access capital to start-up or grow their business as they are perceived as high-risk due to their age and limited entrepreneurial experience; business development services are often lacking, hard to access, and not geared towards the particular needs of young entrepreneurs; they are often less knowledgeable about networks, markets and investment opportunities and sources of information than older players, and;  the educational and training system does not provide them with the skills required to land a job in the private sector.

To tackle these issues and boost employment, entrepreneurship and inclusive and sustainable industrial development, UNIDO has developed an integrated approach that assists governments and supports structures to serve young people who want to create and develop sustainable enterprises, and ultimately improve their livelihoods.

The UNIDO Productive work for youth approach consists of:

  • Fostering the entrepreneurial culture by introducing entrepreneurship courses and entrepreneurship training in universities and vocational training institutes.
  • Assisting young entrepreneurs seeking to set up an enterprise with (a) analyzing markets and value chains to identify sectors and value chains with high potential for young entrepreneurs; (b) assisting young potential entrepreneurs to set-up their businesses; and (c) conducting a financial appraisal of the business idea through UNIDO’s financial appraisal software (COMFAR).
  • Assisting entrepreneurs to identify adequate forms of financial schemes, depending on the context and target group: (a) grant scheme; (b) revolving fund; or (c) guarantee funds.
  • Once the entrepreneur has started or upgraded his micro- small or medium enterprise (MSME) UNIDO offers various support services related to counseling, investment promotion, technology upgrading, and business linkages which help further develop MSMEs and create more jobs.

Impact and results

As a result of this programme, UNIDO has successfully engaged in the creation of youth employment opportunities through supporting the creation and expansion of MSMEs in over 15 countries. Results include:

  • A strengthened entrepreneurial culture and the promotion of youth entrepreneurship as a viable solution to create employment;
  • Facilitated access to finance for MSMEs and start-ups through linkages with local financial institutions or the setting-up of dedicated funds to fill market gaps;
  • Improved public and private business service providers, particularly when it comes to catering for young women and men;
  • The creation of youth-led enterprises that outlive the start-up phase;
  • The creation of long-term, productive employment opportunities for young men and women.

Did you know?

UNIDO is the 2014 Co-Chair of the Inter Agency Network on Youth and Development (IANYD), a UN system-wide network chaired by UNDESA consisting of UN-agencies that work on youth related issues. IANYD is widely recognized within the UN system and by the UN Secretary-General to be the most relevant and effective mechanisms to harmonize and strengthen the collaboration of UN entities and their impact in the field of Youth Development.

During its year as co-chair, UNIDO will be confronted with two challenging tasks: ensuring that youth issues are adequately addressed in the planning of the post-2015 development agenda and implementing the System Wide Action Plan. The System Wide Action Plan (SWAP) is an exercise requested by Member States and assigned by the UN Secretary-General to the IANYD to harness the strengths of the UN system in the area of youth development and promote joint programmatic work on the issue.

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Last updated on February 2014