Year of Youth project to focus on training, employment, economic opportunities, and inclusion

02 March 2023

Training, employment, economic opportunities and inclusion of the most vulnerable must be among the top priorities for the Commonwealth's Youth Mainstreaming Training Programme.

This was the clear message from young people and youth leaders at the inaugural Youth Mainstreaming stakeholder engagement meeting. The Youth Mainstreaming Training Programme is designed to build stakeholder capacity to respond to a commitment from Commonwealth Heads of Government to ensure young people's voices, rights, capabilities, and needs are considered and prioritised in policy and decision-making across governments and development institutions.

Year of Youth

It is part of the Commonwealth's flagship Year of Youth - a special designation from a mandate by Commonwealth Heads of Government who met in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2022. There, Heads declared a focus on empowering young people, stakeholders and governments to accelerate progress on youth-focused issues in 2023.

The conversation series titled "Co-creating Futures with Young People" aims to initiate a dialogue about youth mainstreaming and reach a consensus between policymakers and young people on the vision, strategies and practical tools and techniques that will ensure its success. Youth from across the Commonwealth were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and perspectives with young leaders and training programme designers, includingCo-chair of the Commonwealth Year of Youth Advisory Committee, Dr Henry Charles. 

Speaking at the event, Commonwealth Youth Council Representative, Everton Rattray, praised the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which is this year celebrating five decades of collaboration with governments and its partners on youth development and empowerment, for providing spaces such as the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF), where young people sit beside world leaders and advocate for their peers.

However, he highlighted the ongoing challenges: "We need to empower young people so they can effectively contribute when they sit at these decision-making tables. There is a need for training for young people in diplomacy so they know how to operate professionally in these spaces, and there is a need for training in policy-making to understand the rudiments of how decisions are made and how they can translate their opinions into policy."

Youth development

Young people and campaigners also raised concerns about including people with disability and support for teens under 18. The conversation provided an opportunity to highlight four open access online courses available through the Youth Mainstreaming Training Programme. The courses help young people, youth workers and government officials understand and embrace key principles and practices of mainstreaming, based on Commonwealth-specific experiences of participation, inclusion, safeguarding and evidence-based policymaking.  

Commonwealth Research Manager Dr Terri-Ann Gilbert-Roberts, who manages the programme, described the engagement as enlightening and extremely useful. She said: "We were very clear from the beginning that we were going to take a collaborative approach to building and implementing this project. That means ensuring all perspectives are heard and considered, and the full involvement of young people." 

She added: "This first meeting has reiterated the importance of a whole-of-government approach, ensuring we connect with all spheres of decision-making, for example, education, health, trade, environment, culture and sport. We are also reminded of the importance of engaging with and boosting our youth networks, to ensure young people's voices are represented and heard and that we rely on their talents and innovations to deliver our youth development and empowerment goals." 

Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail