In October 2015, the innovative Youth@Work programme, developed by SPC in response to the escalating unemployment rate among Pacific youth, was awarded a grant of GBP 1 million from the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme.
The four-year grant enables SPC and its partners to continue their quest to assist Pacific young people to secure decent employment. As a direct result of the funding, it is expected that more than 2000 Pacific young people will be given entry into career tracks in formal employment and more than 8000 will benefit from the Youth Market and Young Entrepreneurs Programme components to change the lives of over 10,000 youth in Solomon Islands.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was established by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society in honour of Her Majesty’s 60-year contribution to the Commonwealth.
Launched by His Royal Highness Prince Harry on 9 July 2014 on behalf of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the programme aims to discover, celebrate and support young people from every Commonwealth nation who are leading the way in transforming their own lives and that of others, despite the challenges they may face.
The five-year programme, which runs from 2014 to 2018, has a grants scheme that supports organisations in selected countries across the Commonwealth that work with young people to help solve the problems affecting their lives and the communities in which they live with innovative, youth-focused solutions.
Youth@Work was launched by SPC with support from the Australian and Solomon Islands governments in 2012 to address the rampant unemployment and disengagement of youth in Solomon Islands. With a population of over 600,000, this Pacific Island country of 1000 islands has a large youth population and few formal employment opportunities for them.
A programme for youth that’s run by youth, it provides training and internships, and promotes youth entrepreneurship through start-up grants and business training.
Youth@Work has achieved promising results in Solomon Islands. To date, the programme has placed over 2000 young people in internships and assisted another 5000 in entrepreneurship start-ups through the monthly Youth Markets and the Young Entrepreneurs Programme.
A three-year independent tracer study on Youth@Work indicates that around 39 percent of Solomon Islands youth who have participated in the programme since 2012 have secured further employment.
SPC is seeing clear results through the programme of implementation of SPC services to member states using youth to lead their own development, through off-shoots such as Choiseul Youth@Work (for rural youth), Fish@Work and Ag@Work and Youth@WorkICT and the NCD Warriors, all components of the Youth@Work programme that empower youth to contribute to their nation’s development outcomes.
With the four-year grant from Queens Young Leaders, the programme can greatly benefit from stability of funding in order to solidify the programme model to share with other Pacific countries.