The demand for the Youth@Work internship programme is growing rapidly, says Programme Manager Sandra Bartlett.
Registration for the latest phase of the programme closed last Wednesday with 630 youths signing up to take part.
“This is by far the biggest registration we have had yet, and it is a reflection of how many youth in Honiara are seeking opportunities to find employment,” Bartlett said.
“Seventy per cent of our population is under 30. Solomon Islands has a burgeoning youth population, and demand for programmes like Youth@Work is only going to get bigger and bigger.
“For many, the Youth@Work programme is the only opportunity they have to find work.”
The Youth@Work internship programme requires registered youth to complete community service and three weeks of full-time training before they are placed in an internship for 15 to 20 weeks.
Anyone between the age of 17 and 27 can register and no particular level of education is required.
“The majority of those who have registered for this phase have completed only form five,” Bartlett said.
“It is alarming how many youth have not had the opportunity to complete their high school education.”
Bartlett said the Youth@Work internship programme began in 2012.
“Now in Phase 7, interest has steadily grown with each phase and we predict it will continue to grow as the number of school drop-outs rises,” she said.
“Most youth know about our programme through word of mouth. They are actively looking for opportunities like this.”
“The Youth@Work team works hard to accommodate all youth who want to take part in our programme but, if demand continues to grow at the rate we have seen, we may have to start a waiting list.”
“We are also concerned about finding enough internship placements, as there are not enough employment opportunities.
“We encourage community and government to continue helping youth through improvements to our education system and boosting employment opportunities,” Bartlett added.
Youth@Work is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in partnership with the Solomon Islands Ministry of National Unity, Peace and Reconciliation; the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration; the Ministry of Culture and Tourism; and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs. Youth@Work is an initiative to tackle youth unemployment in Solomon Islands and is funded by the Australian Aid bilateral programme, with assistance from its partner ministries.