x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Jobseekers’ lifeline offers the young hope for the future

Thanks to conflict and displacement, a generation are at risk of missing opportunities

Orphans at the Amman SOS Children's Village / The National
Orphans at the Amman SOS Children's Village / The National

For thousands of displaced young people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, it is hard to remain hopeful about the future.

The preoccupations of most people their age – to find a job, secure a steady income and start building roots – often elude those who are fighting for survival in difficult circumstances.

So it is heartening to see one international organisation tackling that sense of disenfranchisement in the Middle East by providing homes, skills and opportunities to help them improve their circumstances.

SOS Children’s Villages are helping thousands displaced by conflict and disaster with its YouthCan project to help young people get a foot on the career ladder.

Its work began in Jordan and Lebanon and is now spreading to Morocco. The need has never been more great; according to this year’s Arab Youth Survey, nearly one third of young people in the Arab world are unemployed.

Without the skills or the experience to change their circumstances, it is easy to get into a rut. The project tackles the apathy that can often accompany unemployment by offering hands-on work experience, training and access to mentors to help improve skills. Its digital arm YouthLinks also gives recruits the chance to pick the brains of experts around the globe.

Despair is the death knell for jobseekers. It spells a cycle of disenchantment with the system and the dearth of hope, so vital to change things for the better.

Empowering young people, giving them a voice and an outlet to escape political, economic and social factors, is transformative.

It could spell the difference between giving up altogether and being a lifeline to support their families.

Those who are coming of age now in certain parts of the region have experienced what the Arab Youth Survey termed “a decade of hopes and fears”.

They have witnessed the fallout of the Arab uprisings, seen the rise of ISIS and the desperation rife among growing numbers in refugee camps on country borders.

In a region where the idea of normality has been subverted in numerous ways, initiatives like that of SOS Children’s Villages are vital to give fresh hope that the circumstances they face are not irrevocable.