This is the first in a four-part series of articles on SOS Children’s Villages YouthCan! program. Links at the bottom of the page will help you navigate to the following articles.
'I always wanted to help my community. I am now in a position to have an impact and be a leader that guides other creative young people with innovative ideas,’ says 23-year-old Isco, a marketing student from Palestine, about her YouthCan! experience.
With 12 other young people from around the world, Isco travelled to Germany in May 2023 to take the stage at the 4th Global YouthCan! Conference hosted by Deutsche Post DHL Group. 150 stakeholders, including YouthCan! participants, corporate partners, volunteers and experts met in Bonn to share their experiences and develop a vision for the program’s future.
© Magdalena Sikorska
YouthCan! is SOS Children’s Villages’ global partnership for youth employability and entrepreneurship. It offers skills training, mentorship and other educational and professional opportunities to young people growing up without adequate family support. Active in 50 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe, YouthCan! aims to address the employment challenges of young people, which are especially pressing in low and middle-income countries and marginalized communities.
Globally, more than one in five people aged 15–24 is not in education, employment, or training (NEET). COVID-19 disrupted education worldwide and hurt young people more than any other age group in the labour market. Multiple crises, including armed conflicts, climate shocks, rising poverty and inequalities, have exacerbated young people’s education and employment challenges. Women are particularly affected. In 2022, young men were almost 1.5 times more likely to be employed than their female peers.
Transitioning from school to decent work is particularly difficult for young people growing up in alternative care or families facing hardships such as poverty or discrimination. These young people need to become financially independent earlier than their peers. At the same time, they often lack the guidance, networks and financial support others have as they get their qualifications and enter the job market.
“Lack of work can have dire consequences for young people, as it puts them at risk of poverty, social exclusion, and exploitation. This is not just a personal loss but a missed opportunity for society as a whole,” said Dr. Dereje Wordofa, President of SOS Children’s Villages International. She highlighted YouthCan!’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goal number eight, which is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.