Nigeria Mobile Science Lab
©VSO/ Onye Ubanatu

Youth empowerment

We create environments and platforms that allow young people to participate in conversations around their livelihoods, pursue their dreams and aspirations and take action to improve their own well-being.

We believe if young people are supported to earn an income and access resources, they can sustain their own livelihoods and actively seek out new economic opportunities.

Young seamstress on the youth empowerment and employment project uses her sewing machine
VSO/Obscura Media
The Youth Employment Enhancement Project trained Roseline, 23, in financial literacy to help her to make her seamstress business profitable.

The issue

Young people aged 16-35 are the most vulnerable group in society. They are heavily impacted by poverty and often face barriers such as low education, unemployment, social discrimination and inequality, as well as increasingly having to deal with the effects of climate change.

Young people often have limited access to services and may lack the appropriate skills to be able to gain decent job opportunities.

From our work, we recognise the huge potential of our youth in economic development. Our global programme is designed to address the barriers that prevent youths from accessing decent work and empower them to become active agents of change.

How VSO supports youth

We advocate for the creation of decent green jobs and raise awareness about the rights of young people and promote social accountability between young people and their communities.

We design and implement programmes that mentor individuals in how to start-up businesses and give them access to financial services and digital technology, provided through partnerships with local youth-centred groups. Our programmes are informed through field-testing and building guidelines around the barriers that stop young people from accessing decent jobs.

We also empower young people through our youth networks. These connect young people together who want to work to influence policies and promote systematic changes that allow for the creation of inclusive and decent jobs.

Our work in youth empowerment

Man at landfill site

From Waste to Work

Strengthen green youth-led start-ups in Kenya to create decent jobs through waste recovery.

A student watches intently as her instructor demonstrates machinery in a welding and metal workshop

Employment and entrepreneurship

Ensuring that everyone has access to decent employment and market opportunities.

A group of students in blue overalls and safety gear crouch down around a metal box as they are taught by a lead instructor

Training Uganda's young population

Equipping Uganda's large youth population with the skills they need to work in the country's growing oil and gas sectors.

Ugandan female farmer carries grain on her head as part of VSO's YELG project
VSO/Ginny Lattul

Rebuilding hope, trust and communities in Uganda

When Sue Howes returned to Uganda 40 years after first volunteering there, she found a country still nursing the wounds left by war, extremism, disease and despotism. Compelled to do something, Sue and her husband Greg founded a project that would help communities build themselves back up.

Volunteer Karen Gartner and tailor Macklyne Katsuiime
VSO/Georgie Scott

Five ways volunteers are tackling youth unemployment in Uganda

Uganda's huge youth population has the potential to lift the country out of poverty, but only if high levels of unemployment can be reduced. VSO volunteers are stepping up to help, and changing lives in the process.

National volunteer Asha conducts an aspirations analysis with young female applicants to the Lake Zone Youth Empowerment project.

Youth networks

Our youth networks are unifying and amplifying the voices of young people.

Other areas where we work

Two female farmers laugh together as they harvest crops
VSO/Allison Joyce

Green jobs

Green jobs are jobs that: reduce consumption of energy and raw materials, limit greenhouse gas emissions, minimise waste and pollution and protect and restore ecosystems.

Vivian working at her roadside stall
VSO/Obscura Media

Women’s empowerment, control over incomes and right to food

Promoting women’s right to adequate food, women's control over their incomes and developing climate resilient agriculture.

Josephine working on her road side stall
VSO/Obscura Media

Decent work

Decent work means jobs that are productive, respect labour rights, generate a fair income and treat everyone equally.

Mangrove planting

Support us with a donation