Aumua, A. Youth employment for resilience in fragile and conflict-affected states. GREAT Insights Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 1. February/March 2017.
The Pacific region is attempting to use strategic partnerships to address the growing challenge of youth unemployment in an environment with limited opportunities for sustainable development.
The Pacific region consists of 22 countries and territories spread across the world’s largest ocean. The total population of this diverse region is around 10 million people, more than half of which is under the age of 25. It is growing fast, placing huge – and increasing – demographic pressures on basic resources and core services such as education, health and justice. The average youth unemployment rates in the Pacific are 23% compared to a global average of 12.6%.
A lack of statistical data and analysis on youth creates difficulty in identifying gaps and providing evidence to guide investments. Youth issues are often treated as stand-alone issues, unconnected to other issues, and often without addressing root causes. Compounded by a lack of engagement between partners, governments and young people, the task of responding to the situation of young Pacific Islanders is complex and challenging. There are few sources of large resources for regional youth programmes. The issue of ‘youth’ is still considered a ‘soft’ issue, beleaguered by its lack of statistical basis, its value-intensive mandate and a dilemma over the boundaries of what is defined a ‘youth issue’, both statistically and thematically.
The Pacific Youth Development Framework (PYDF) 2014–2023 represents an important milestone for the Pacific region. It responds to the calls from young people, development partners and governments for greater support for the implementation of countries’ youth policies, and to address barriers to progress. The framework aims to be a catalyst for investment in youth, rather than a regional youth programme. The PYDF is structured around four development outcomes – prioritised by young people in the Pacific — and uses four strategic approaches which mark a significant change to the way youth issues have previously been addressed in the region.
The four strategic approaches are focused on critical drivers for investment: strengthening development accountability through the engagement of young people as equal partners; statistical and analytical evidence, and strategic information to inform decision-making for policy and programming; promoting inclusion to target attention towards the most marginalised populations of youth; and working to mainstream youth to enhance outcomes across development sectors where resources already exist.
The PYDF’s first development outcome is to address one of the greatest challenges confronting youth in the Pacific – to secure decent work opportunities. To meet this outcome, the PYDF determines that young people must have increased access to relevant education and training in formal and vocational sectors, more young people must be involved in entrepreneurship, and youth-friendly employment services must be established to connect young people to employment opportunities.
The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting development in the region. It has worked innovatively to implement strategies, through the support of its member states, development partners and strategic partnerships. Some of these strategies include:
These strategies are imperative in addressing the challenges faced by youths in the employment sector and foster more opportunities for platforms of dialogue between youths and relevant productivity ministries and stakeholders. Moving forward, the Pacific Youth Development Framework will be a key document in guiding national governments and partners for increased investment in youth across development sectors and the inclusion of youth in future development discussions.
About the author
Dr Audrey Aumua is the Deputy Director General – Suva for the Pacific Community (SPC).
Photo: Youth in training. Credits: Pacific Community (SPC).
This article was published in GREAT Insights Volume 6, Issue 1 (February/March 2017).