Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, currently on an official visit to Zambia, has stressed the need for equipping young people with practical hands-on vocational and entrepreneurship skills as a way to address the challenge of youth unemployment across the Commonwealth.
Speaking on 10 June 2013 after visiting Kalingalinga Youth Resource Centre and the SOS Children’s Villages Zambia - two institutions in the capital Lusaka where young people are trained in carpentry, metal work, tailoring, electrical engineering and catering - Mrs Masire-Mwamba said with an ever growing young population across the Commonwealth, programmes like those at the two institutions are the way to go to empower young people to be self-reliant.
“Today’s Commonwealth is made up primarily of young people. The older people are in your [young peoples’] world. We have a duty to provide you with the needed skills through training programmes like these as a foundation for your future,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary-General said that programmes such as those at Kalingalinga and SOS Children's Villages provided best practices that should be shared across the 54-member Commonwealth.
She explained that the new strategic plan for the Commonwealth Secretariat places strong emphasis on youth development programmes.
“At the last Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Papua New Guinea earlier this year, our theme was putting young people at the heart of the development process. What we have seen today is a practical way of putting that theme into action. The young people who have been trained and have started their businesses are making contributions to the nation, to their families and to themselves,” she said.
She said she was delighted that the Commonwealth Youth Programme Africa Centre in Lusaka was effectively partnering with the two training institutions to deliver the training programmes.
The Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme Africa Centre, James Odit, said the centre provides training in entrepreneurship - providing tips on how to start businesses, establish companies, marketing, sales and promotion - and placement opportunities to students from the two institutions.
Earlier in the day, the Deputy Secretary-General met young people from different Commonwealth countries currently undergoing training at the Commonwealth Youth Programme centre.