Guam – A programme facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Solomon Islands is helping 500 young people improve their chances of gaining employment.
YOUTH AT WORK is a partnership between SPC, the Ministry of National Reconciliation, Unity and Peace, and the AusAID-funded Pacific Leadership Program. It aims to address high youth unemployment and the shortage of job opportunities in Solomon Islands.
The coordinator of SPC’s Solomon Islands country office, Mia Rimon, said that the programme gives the 500 school leavers and graduates opportunities to gain valuable work experience while serving as interns in businesses and the Public Service in Honiara.
‘As well as practical work experience, the interns will gain an understanding of ethics and codes of conduct, and skills such as interview techniques and how to write curriculum vitae and job applications. They will also be mentored by successful community role models, who will help them build self confidence and set goals,’ said Ms Rimon.
‘We hope that by using community, business and government mentors and partners, we will be able to tackle some of the issues with growing youth unemployment and disenfranchisement,’ she said.
Ms Rimon said that the programme will be extended to the provinces after the first year if it proves successful in Honiara.
The programme developed out of efforts by the Ministry of National Reconciliation, Unity and Peace to achieve one of the priorities of the National Youth Policy – ‘Increased number of young people participating in activities that promote peace building and conflict prevention (Youth and peace building)’.
Ms Rimon said that the ministry, along with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, has been holding National Youth Peace Building Conferences throughout the country to determine how to best help youth in Solomon Islands post conflict.
These provincial conferences have pointed to unemployment and limited education opportunities as leading causes of low self-esteem and a sense of hopelessness in many young people.
The conferences also focused on youth susceptibility to peer influence, as seen in cases of ethnic tension, and in the 2006 riots in Honiara and a recent spate of violent assaults.
‘The Ministry of National Reconciliation, Unity and Peace sees the YOUTH AT WORK programme as a positive step in supporting efforts to address some of the most pressing issues for young people in Solomon Islands,’ said Ms Rimon.