Primary actor fishing
Paul Wambugu

Youth empowerment, green jobs and decent work

Consolata and her mother

Our projects

VSO runs a vast range of projects spanning our three global programmes; resilient livelihoods, inclusive education and healthy communities.

There are a number of barriers facing youths that make it harder to get employment or to set up and grow small enterprises. These barriers make it difficult for youths to make decisions and act. This results in less effective employment and business opportunities for youths.

The number of youths is increasing rapidly.  Africa is a young continent, with youth comprising more than a third (34.2%) of the total population. This is the only region in the world today whose labour force is expanding rapidly. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for women (7.5%) is higher than for men (6.3%).

VSO is addressing these barriers with the Youth Empowerment, Green Jobs and Decent Work global programme, with an objective of ensuring successful youth transition to decent green jobs. Our priority is to empower young people and ensure they have access to better jobs, that are green, decent and contribute to environmental and biodiversity conservation.

There are over 1.2 billion youths in the world, 16% of the total world population.

International Labour Organization 2020 review


Over 85% of the worlds youths are from the developing world.


21% of youths in the developing world are not in education, employment or training.


34 million people were unemployed in Africa in 2019.

Our work

VSO’s Global Programme on Youth Empowerment, Green Jobs and Decent Work supports young people to address these barriers enabling the creation of green jobs through:  

  • Promoting business models and enterprises that incorporate re-skilling and up-skilling on green jobs 
  • Enhancing technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and curriculum to take into consideration green skills 
  • Promoting the use of renewable energy 
  • Promoting waste management and recycling  
  • Supporting the transition to agroecology and climate resilient agriculture  
  • Demanding social protection for informal workers in the green economy

The programme aims to help young people find green jobs so they can transition out of jobs involving fossil fuels, large-scale mining and other environmentally destructive sectors. Our target is to protect the livelihoods of the most marginalised, like those whose lives are affected by climate change. 

Nigeria Mobile Science Lab
©VSO/ Onye Ubanatu

Youth empowerment

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

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.

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.

Stories from our global programme

Men planting mangroves on a beach in the Philippines
©Pakigdait Inc

The power of regrowth

Climate change, typhoons and poor fishing practices were threatening the way of life of a coastal community in the Philippines. Then volunteers came together to plant mangroves to turn the tide.

Woman sitting by a wall in Nepal
©VSO/Omar Havana

Wolf at the door: Last chance to avoid COVID-induced famine

Mounting evidence shows food security has dwindled during the pandemic, especially for the most marginalised. Without urgent action, a year of famines looks increasingly likely in 2021.

Yu Saret farming in her field.
VSO/Cesar Lopez Balan

Climate change and overfishing in Cambodia in 7 photos

Fisherfolk living on Cambodia's biggest lake are taking a stand against climate change and overfishing, and finding alternative sources of income thanks to support from VSO.

Mangrove planting

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