One UN Youth Employment Programme (YEP)-Samoa

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Context: The School-to-Work-Transition Survey (SWTS) conducted in 2012 by the ILO and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics indicated that the rate of youth that were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) was 43.5 per cent, with similar shares for both young men and women. The youth unemployment rate in 2012 stood at 16.7 per cent (14.7 and 20.1 per cent for men and women, respectively). At the time, unemployment hit particularly hard those with lower levels of education. Thus, the unemployment rate among young people with tertiary education was 11.6 per cent, compared to 27.1 per cent among those with secondary education. The impact of education was even more pronounced among women, with unemployment rates among women with tertiary education and secondary education at 13.7 and 43.7 per cent, respectively. Tertiary educated youth also transited faster to a stable or satisfactory job (2.3 months) than those with only secondary (9.4 months) or primary (20 months) education. In 2012, some 25.6 per cent of employed youth were deemed overeducated for their job. During that year, it was estimated that 71.4 per cent of the Samoan youth were wage/salaried workers and 26.1 per cent were self-employed.

Many people in Samoa have limited access to labour market information, including which skills are in demand and which employment opportunities exist. This makes it challenging for youth to choose relevant studies and secure employment. Similarly, employers have a difficult time finding suitable employees.

Implementation of programme/ initiative: The stated objective of the One UN Youth Employment Programme (1UN-YEP) is to assist youth in Samoa to develop the knowledge and skills needed to secure decent work as an employee or as entrepreneur of their own small business. The programme addresses supply- and demand-side challenges in the labour market and provides potential employees and employers with information and supporting services to access employment opportunities.

1UN-YEP has three specific outputs: 1) address the gap between supply and demand by establishing a “Youth Employment Network’ that provides youth with information and employment services to facilitate their entry into the labour market; 2) address the supply-side by improving the technical skills and entrepreneurial knowledge of youth in order to access employment opportunities created by climate change adaptation, specifically within the agricultural, community-based tourism and creative industries; and 3) address the demand-side by developing policies that create an enabling environment for micro- and small business development and enhance protection for youth through legal empowerment in the informal economy.

1UN-YEP is a partnership between the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) and five UN agencies that combine their capacities as “One UN”. The agencies involved are ILO and UNV for Output 1, UNDP, AFO, ILO and UNESCO for Output 2, and UNDP and ILO for Output 3. The programme started in June 2015 and will run until December 2017, with a total budget US$ 3,700,000, of which US$ 800,000 is provided by UNDP.

Main challenges: 1UN-YEP faces a number of challenges, including those related to the position of youth in Samoan society, rural-to-urban migration and the societal perception of self-employment and the informal economy.

Samoan culture (fa’asamoa) emphasizes the dignity and achievement of the group over its individual members and assigns different roles for youth and older persons, and men and women. These features in Samoan culture have relevant implications on youth development and their participation and empowerment in society, especially given that young people have limited public and leadership roles.

The 2008 global economic crisis, the 2009 tsunami and the 2012 cyclone imposed significant challenges on the Samoan economy and have in particular adversely affected youth, who suffer from a higher unemployment rate than the rest of population. Rural-to-urban migration of young people in search of better employment opportunities has led to higher unemployment rates in urban areas.

Another relevant challenge faced by 1UN-YEP derives from the legislative framework in Samoa, which contains anti-informal business provisions. 1UN-YEP seeks to promote a supportive legal environment that protects youth in the informal sector and facilitate their transition to the formal economy.

Lastly, 1UN-YEP has also encountered a number of logistic problems. For instance: 1) some projects have been delayed due to restructuring within the MWCSD and 2) the delay in the construction of the building for the Small Business Incubator (see below).

Results achieved: Since the start of implementation in June 2015, 1UN-YEP has already achieved a number of objectives. As of February 2017, a total of 124 unemployed youth have attended training courses on soft skills, Samoan culture, culinary training and organic farming. In addition, 20 young entrepreneurs have attended ICT training.

In June 2016, the programme took the first steps towards the creation of a Small Business Incubator (SBI) for youth in Samoa. The SBI draws on the success of similar experiences in New Zealand and in other Pacific Island communities (e.g., New Caledonia, Palau, Guam and Tahiti). Once the SBI reaches full capacity it will provide technical, logistical and financial services to young entrepreneurs, including a working space and access to labour market information.

In October 2016, 1UN-YEP completed a four-week training course that targeted unemployed youth and trained them in traditional clothing making, handicrafts weaving, carving, traditional food preparation and cultural entertainment. The course aimed at reducing youth employment while contributing to the preservation of Samoan culture.

Subsequently, in November 2016, the 1UN-YEP launched an online website called the e­Youth­Hub that centralizes all existing information and employment services relevant to youth. The website helps young job seekers to prepare their CV and provides them with information regarding employment, training, volunteer and internships opportunities.

Moving Forward: A key goal of 1UN-YEP has been securing a broad ownership of the programme. Thus, implementation of 1UN-YEP has involved government ministries, bilateral and multilateral development partners and private sector and civil society organizations. This has allowed not only strengthening the commitment and support of all the parties but has also set the foundation for long-term sustainability once different projects and activities are  integrated within the policies and strategic frameworks of the government (particularly the MWCSD), donors, the private sector and civil society.

Replicability: The careful documentation and dissemination of the outputs of the programme will aid in future replication of 1UN-YEP. Thus, the Programme Management Unit is set to launch a series of workshops with stakeholders on what are the lessons and how they can be best documented and disseminated. After the operational closure of the programme a “Lesson Learned Report”, a “Terminal Evaluation” and an “End of Programme Review” will identify lessons learned from 1UN-YEP, assess the overall effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its outputs, and provide recommendations. It is hoped that these documents will inform policymakers in the Samoan government and other governments in the Pacific in the design of new policies and strategies to promote youth employment.


Background Information on Samoa school-to-work transition. Samoa School-to-work Transition 2012 Survey (2016). Samoa Bureau of Statistics (SBS) and International Labor Organization (ILO).—ed_emp/documents/publication/wcms_537757.pdf

Official Programme Document and Brochure

1UN-YEP Webpage in UNDP in Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau


This good practice was kindly prepared by Dr. Antonio Postigo

Project Details

Date: March 10, 2017

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