Flexible skills development for vulnerable young people

Innovative approaches to increase technical and vocational education and training and labour market access among young women, youth with disabilities and rural youth

Lab debate
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
09:00 to 10:15

Globally 71 million young people are unemployed. The International Labour Organization estimates that 156 million young people are living in poverty, even though they are employed. Young women, disabled youth and those in rural areas are disproportionately represented in these statistics. If not accompanied by economic opportunities, investments made in young people’s health, education, training, civic participation and access to technology are unsustainable. Participants will discuss strategies to address the individual and socioeconomic contexts in which vulnerable young people live to facilitate effective economic inclusion and decent work opportunities.

Key points

  • Marginalised people need flexible options.

  • Organising internship programmes with local firms results in many students getting jobs.

  • It is important that courses include life and business skills and learning how to work as a team.

  • The number of dropouts can be reduced through targeted organisation of courses.

  • Training needs to be linked to real job opportunities in the business world.


Youth unemployment globally stands at 71 million. Even among those with jobs, an estimated 156 million (International Labour Organization statistics) are living in poverty. Young women, disabled youth and those in rural areas are disproportionately represented in these statistics. Solutions to finding them jobs and ending their social exclusion are being explored by various projects in Africa, many with promising results. In Malawi, 34 % of the population is aged between 15 to 34 – 81% of these are in rural areas; 73 % of youth are underemployed; and 86% are engaged in irregular employment. The majority of the youth do not complete their education for various reasons and girls cannot enrol in formal educational system. DAPP, the NGO, works to promote increased access to inclusive quality education while improving food security and economic growth among smallholder farmers. It conducts projects in close partnership with the national government, local and district authorities and a range of national as well as international partners. Since 1995 DAPP has been working to equip youth with technical and entrepreneurial skills. This includes working for vulnerable women and girls in rural areas. It organises training in 12 trades. To date, over 10,300 students have been trained. The key focus of training programmes is trade skills, entrepreneurship and life skills; many are targeted at young women in rural areas. The content of all courses has a practical focus but delivery is around a variety of options. In addition to class-based teaching, it offers a mobile training centre, a satellite learning centre and a community outreach initiative. The mobile centres can cater for 30 students and are often located in a village for up to four months. Outreach programmes typically involve local communities and focus on agriculture. A number target young people with disabilities. What emerges from this experience is the realisation that marginalised people need flexible options. This has to cater for time, location, social and financial capacity and previous learning. It is important that courses include life and business skills and how to work as a team. They have to be equipped for local labour market conditions. The Addax & Oryx Foundation funds sustainable development projects implemented by non-profit organisations in Africa and the Middle East. The aim is to help poor communities to sustainably rise out of poverty. The programme has demonstrated the impact of internships. It has funded vocational training of 1,390 young students. Of these, 54 % have found internships and 42 % are fully employed by the end of the project. It is important to explain to local businesses the importance of offering internships, even when unpaid. To avoid drop-outs, experience suggests that the teaching methodologies are important. The courses have to understand the students’ needs and be entrepreneur-centric. Most organisations will be using wrong training methodologies and assume that that people “should be there”. More important is what is being offered. Ensuring that jobs will be guaranteed at the end of the process is very important. There is a winning formula for bringing jobs to young vulnerable people and this is to build strong partnerships with companies, being able to link training to a job opportunity at the end. Finding employment afterwards is vital.


Working with business to identify their needs is the priority when designing training programmes. Promoting internships with these businesses then delivers a successful transition into employment

Organised by


Aubert Ouango
Program Manager
Belinda Hall
Managing Director
Addax and Oryx Foundation
Minke van Rees
Program director Education
Turing Foundation
Lara Hager
Partnerships Development Manager
Voluntary Services Overseas
Moses Chibwana
Director DAPP Mikolongwe Vocational School
Humana People to People