UNICEF holds an Adolescent and Youth Forum on employability in Haiti

Adolescents from Haiti's 10 regions as well as national and international organizations’ representatives gathered in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to discuss vocational training, leadership, entrepreneurship, technological and social innovations.

Generation Unlimited
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29 August 2019

By Ndiaga Seck

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 29 August 2019- UNICEF Haiti has organized a 2-day Adolescent and Youth Forum on employability. From 29 to 30 August 2019, 150 participants including adolescents and youths from Haiti's 10 regions as well as national and international organizations’ representatives gathered in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to discuss vocational training, leadership, entrepreneurship, technological and social innovations.

In partnership with the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), the Minister of Youth, Sports and Civic Action (MJSAC), the Youth Development Initiative (IDEJEN), the Forum has been organized in line with Generation Unlimited (GenU), the global partnership launched on 24 September 2018 by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“Adolescence is a crucial period for the development of individual identity. This is a critical period for the development of individual identity, an opportunity for exploration and creativity during which positive social relationships and supportive environment strengthen feelings of inclusion and lead to positive outcomes,” declared UNICEF Haiti Representative Maria Luisa Fornara at the launch.

There are 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10–19 in the world today and nearly 90 per cent of these girls and boys live in low- and middle-income countries. Realizing the rights of these adolescents, and investing in their development, contributes to the full participation of adolescents and young people in a nation’s life, a competitive labour force, sustained economic growth, improved governance and vibrant civil societies, accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Generation Unlimited brings together public and private partners and focuses on three priorities: 1) secondary education, 2) skills for learning, employability and decent work and 3) empowerment, especially for girls.

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“At 15, I wanted to get technical training to learn a trade, make money and help my parents to buy things they could not afford."

They encouraged me to learn plumbing, but I did not like it at all. So I chose to study industrial tailoring and sewing. I started making bags, lunch boxes, etc. IDEJEN helped me get my first sewing machine and tools. Today, I contribute to my family income, I have a business plan for I'm looking for funding. Young people who are empowering themselves should be given some support," said Alex Jean Theveni from Martissant, a poor district in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

In Haiti, 54% of the population is under 25, with 31% between 10 and 24 years old. With such a demographic weight, investing in young people could help produce compelling results for the country's future. But since July 2018, demonstrations have been occasionally erupting in Haiti following ongoing economic difficulties. Young people made the greatest numbers of demonstrators which raised concerns about youth’s access to secondary or higher education, training skills and employability. In 2019, the Haiti has validated its first national non-formal education policy, an achievement that underscores the Government’s willingness to give a second chance to out of school children. UNICEF’s partner IDEJEN which has been implementing non-formal education activities for more than a decade, has led the forum, the results of which forum will inform the 24-26 September Strategic moment of reflection (SMR), preparing UNICEF Haiti second decade programming in line with Generation Unlimited.

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"I think it's really beneficial because a forum like this where we're told about the latest technologies that have to come, things we did not know, is very beneficial. It prepares us for the future because by listening to older people ‘experiences, good experiences, it is really beneficial for us in the future. We will have good examples to follow."

The Forum has ensured adolescents and young people understand the role they must play as they have expressed their views as change-makers. “The forum responds to adolescents and young people’s demand to contribute to the development of their nation. Trained and equipped young people are a great asset, a window of opportunity to maximize their chances of becoming productive actors in their community. Generation Unlimited ensures young people’s voices are heard, creates synergies and accelerates progress to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Fornara stressed at the opening.

Based on a poll conducted in August via U-Report, the digital tool that allows to collect young people’s views anonymously and for free, 44% of youths estimate their opinion is not considered in their community, 26% believe they are discriminated against or excluded from decision-making while 44% are concerned about unemployment. Anne Ghensly Lominy, 14, answered the U-Report poll. “I responded to a survey this month about employability and in terms of employment and training, Haitian youth is not well off (..) As young people, we should be more exposed to people who give us positive training,” she said.

To conclude the forum, adolescents and youths have set-up Generation Unlimited Promoters Committee, tasking themselves to share GenU values in their communities.