Twenty young people from Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have gathered in Port Vila to begin training under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat and Pacific Community (SPC) Emerging Youth Leaders of Melanesia Programme.
The comprehensive training initiative, designed to develop strong youth leaders and equip them to lead development efforts, was opened today by the President of Vanuatu, H.E. President Baldwin Lonsdale, at the MSG Headquarters.
Also in attendance to witness the occasion were Vanuatu Members of Parliament, church leaders as well as representatives from the MSG Secretariat and SPC.
“At this critical moment in time when the Pacific island countries and the world are going through many challenges of any magnitude, we need a new brand of leadership who are responsible, ethical and God fearing young leaders of tomorrow to step in to lead their people free from the hardship,” President Baldwin said.
“It is my call to you young leaders to think seriously about the opportunities and be ready to rise up and to take up the challenges to ensure that your people’s desire and interest is addressed effectively and efficiently,” President Baldwin added.
Youth unemployment remains a critical issue for the region to address. Twenty percent of the Pacific’s 11 million people are 15 to 24 years old, of which approximately half are currently unemployed.
The Emerging Youth Leaders of Melanesia Programme will be conducted over a span of two years during which the selected youth leaders will participate in six, week-long workshops which will include practical sessions and visits to workplaces and agencies.
“This unique training opportunity aims to nurture our young and emerging leaders who will form part of the capacity building of future leadership within the MSG sub-region,” Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat Director-General, Amena Yauvoli, said.
“Participants will develop their own career plans, learn from each other and mentor other young people. They will also be given the opportunity to practice skills that are vital to succeeding in the workforce such as decision-making, communication, time and work management, innovation, and resilience among others,” Mr Yauvoli added.
A significant component of the training is also dedicated to learning more about the successful Solomon Islands Youth@Work programme model.
A recent three-year independent tracer study on Youth@Work indicates that around 39 percent of Solomon Islands youth who have participated in the programme since 2012 have secured further employment..
Last year, the programme achieved another milestone by being awarded a GBP 1 million grant from The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme.
“Investment in our youth is critical to the socio-economic development of all of our member states and territories and SPC is delighted to partner with the MSG Secretariat to produce a diverse and intensive training programme for the five large Melanesian countries,” SPC Regional Director, Melanesia, Mia Rimon, said.
“Youth@Work is a programme for youth, run by youth and to date has placed over 3500 young people in formal job internships and assisted another 5000 in entrepreneurship start-ups through the monthly Youth Markets and the Young Entrepreneurs Programme in Solomon Islands. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with the selected participants so that this successful model can be adapted and implemented in other Pacific countries as well,” Ms Rimon added.
The first training at the MSG Headquarters concludes on 23 July.
Mia Rimon, SPC Regional Director, Melanesia, firstname.lastname@example.org or + 678 730 8046
Lora Lini, MSG Executive Officer, Director General’s Office, email@example.com
Emmanuel Otti, Youth@Work Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Robinson, SPC Media Relations, email@example.com or +679 923 6432