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The issue

Around 1.2 billion of young people are estimated to live in the world today, which equals 18 percent of the global population and 25 percent of the working age population globally. By February 2014, over 600 million young women and men aged 15 to 24 years are neither in school or receiving training, working or looking for work; over 70 million young women and men are unemployed, and an estimated additional 73.4 million young people worldwide are expected to be out of work. 

Many governments deem the creation of long-term, decent and productive work for youth a priority. The private sector is a primary driver of economic growth, creating 9 out of 10 jobs globally. However, in many countries young women and men face obstacles in engaging in productive activities: the educational and training system does not provide them with the skills required to land a job in the private sector; they are perceived as high-risk due to their age and limited entrepreneurial experience, consequently finding it difficult to access capital to start-up or grow their business; business development services are often lacking, hard to access, and not geared towards the particular needs of young entrepreneurs; and they are often less knowledgeable about networks, markets and investment opportunities and sources of information than older players.

The UNIDO approach

In UNIDO, we work towards Inclusive Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) through the economic empowerment of the private sector, and of youth – both female and male.

As referred to in the December 2013 Lima Declaration “Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID)”, industrialization is a driver of development, as it increases productivity, contributes to job creation and generates income. At the same time, it offers opportunities for social inclusion by means of empowerment of women and creating decent employment for youth. The Declaration also acknowledges the challenges that many countries continue to face, such as unemployment and poor access to financial resources.  

To tackle these issues and boost employment, entrepreneurship and inclusive and sustainable industrial development, UNIDO provides services that assist governments and support structures to serve young women and men. Services are geared to increase young people’s employability and provide them with the necessary tools to create and develop sustainable enterprises, and ultimately improve their livelihoods. 

The Entrepreneurship Curriculum Programme (ECP)To prepare young people for their future careers, UNIDO is supporting an action-oriented Entrepreneurship Curriculum Programme (ECP) in secondary, technical schools and universities. The ECP programme prepares students to identify and implement business opportunities in their communities, learn to “save, innovate, invest and grow”, and train them in the use of technology. The programme captures large numbers of young people, currently reaching out to many thousands of boys and girls in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste and Uganda. Click here to view the brochure

Productive Work for Youth – supporting young entrepreneurs: Through it's project on Productive Work for Youth, UNIDO assists young entrepreneurs seeking to set up an enterprise with (a) analyzing markets and value chains to identify sectors and value chains with high potential for young entrepreneurs; (b) assisting young potential entrepreneurs to set-up their businesses; and (c) financially appraising the business idea through the use of UNIDO’s financial appraisal software (COMFAR). 

UNIDO also assists entrepreneurs to identify adequate forms of financial schemes, depending on the context and target group: (a) grant scheme; (b) revolving fund; or (c) guarantee funds.

Finally, once the entrepreneur has started or upgraded her or his micro- small or medium enterprise (MSME), UNIDO offers various support services related to counseling, investment promotion, technology upgrading, and business linkages, which help further develop MSMEs and create more jobs. 


Marketable technical skills: In order to better respond to market requirements for industrial skills, young people need to develop marketable technical skills. Equipping vocational training centers with state-of-the-art methodologies, trained staff and facilities to provide youth with skills that are in line with private sector needs has been the thrust of projects in several countries. Other projects have also aimed at enhancing practical life skills of young vulnerable groups in poverty or crisis-affected areas.

Integration of youth in competitive agro-based value-chains and creative industries: By integrating young women and men into competitive agro-based value-chains and creative industries, UNIDO helps create employment and business opportunities. To this end, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the industrial application of traditional cultural products, in the service sectors, in community-based and green tourism, as well as in key sectors for food security and agricultural productivity is key. Innovative young entrepreneurs can create businesses in rural areas by processing agricultural resources and developing tourism opportunities, thus transforming traditional agrarian societies into entrepreneurial societies.