By Abdul Rashid Thomas
At least 2,000 Sierra Leonean youths facing chronic unemployment or underemployment will receive market-driven vocational training over the next three years, under a project funded by the Government of Japan.
“IOM has a long-standing experience addressing issues related to youth, migration and employment,” said Sanusi Savage, Head of the IOM Office in Sierra Leone.
“We hope that through this new initiative, we can unlock the entrepreneurship potential of Sierra Leonean youths and help them contribute to the development of the country.”
More than 60 per cent of Sierra Leonean youths are unemployed or underemployed.
The West African country has been slowly recovering from the devastation caused by an 11-year civil war (1991 – 2002) and the recent Ebola crisis (2013 – 2016), which has led to massive rural-urban mobility, especially among young people.
This population growth in urban areas has impacted infrastructure and essential service delivery, including housing, schools, jobs, water, health, electricity, and sanitation.
Funded by the Government of Japan, the project – ‘Reducing the Risk of Irregular Migration through Employment Promotion and Entrepreneurship Support for the Youth’, will be implemented over three years from 2019 to 2022.
This new project will contribute to youth and women’s empowerment through vocational and entrepreneurship skills training.
A partnership will be developed with Sierra Tropical, a Sierra Leone-based juice manufacturing company, to provide internships and on-the-job training to young people and women across the country.
Two hundred and forty youths will also receive entrepreneurship training, business start-up kits, and long-term mentoring from industry professionals to ensure the sustainability of their ventures.
Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs for Sierra Leone, said that this new project will support the country’s National Development Plan.
“[The project] will help provide young people with the skills in areas relevant for the job market, reduce rural-urban and irregular migration and contribute to economic growth and development,” he explained.
Since 2017, more than 950 vulnerable Sierra Leoneans have returned home with IOM’s assistance.
The project will also develop activities to raise awareness about the risks and dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking.
“Over the years, the Government of Japan has been very committed in providing support to Sierra Leone, and we are very happy also to support this wonderful project,” said Tsutomu Himeno – Japan’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone.