UNDP reveals that tertiary institutions in the country produce 4 000 graduates a year, and more than half of those are unemployed. The programme will focus on five pillars, namely; graduate placement and mentorship, artisanal skills training and mentorship, a sustainable energy academy, the establishment of a tech hub and an entrepreneurship support programme.

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By Phesheya Mkhonta

The government of the Kingdom of Eswatini has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) by introducing the Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme.

The programme is aimed at supporting young people between 18 to 35 years old to gain work experience, skills and access to jobs. The programme is supported by the United Nations Development Program Eswatini (UNDP) through a partnership with the private sector and tertiary institutions. The programme also reaches out to young people with little or no tertiary education for training on entrepreneurship for business start-ups.

UNDP notes that Eswatini faces a youth unemployment challenge as 58.2% of young people aren’t employed. In an engagement held last week with the private sector, UNDP said the programme is designed to alleviate the high levels of youth unemployment in the country. According to statistics provided by the UNDP, of the 33.3% unemployed national workforce, 58.2% are young men and women, and 50.1% are graduates.

Moreover, the aid agency observed that the programme’s tangible results include;

  • 1000 young people trained in artisanal and digital technology skills
  • 1000 fellows to be placed at hosts institutions
  • 100+ participating companies
  • 4000 beneficiaries
  • 50% of beneficiaries are women

This Programme seeks to address youth unemployment through the following five pillars:

  • Graduate Placement and Mentorship – The programme engage with the government, private sector, and civil society organizations to match public and private sector institutions with interns/fellows and place at least 500 graduates during the pilot phase. Host institutions provide will provide mentorship and coaching over a 12-month period. With the country producing about 4000 graduates per year nationally, the aim of the programme is to grow into a fully-fledged programme that can absorb all of these graduates each year.
  • Artisanal Skills Training and Mentorship – This pillar targets 500 non-graduates or out-of-school youth and trains them with basic vocational skills, business development and mentorship. On graduation, this group will receive starter packs and business training to support self-employment.
  • A Sustainable Energy Academy – In its pilot phase, the Sustainable Energy Academy will select 30 candidates, half of which are women, from each of the 4 administrative regions. The trainees will acquire skills to install and maintain sustainable energy technologies, including off-grid Solar PV, biogas production, ethanol cook-stoves manufacture, solar water heaters, solar cookers, and solar crop dryers, among others.
  • The Establishment of a Tech-Hub – The Tech Hub will provide computer programming skills, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Robotics, Data Science, Software Development, App Design, Animation and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Cloud Computing.
  • Entrepreneurship Support Programme – This pillar focuses on improving business leadership, governance and management to increase access to finance for youth-led businesses through a targeted 12-week business training programme, business plan support and extended mentorship.

The Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme will officially be launched later this month, with the initial implementation period expected to run from January 2023 to January 2024.

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