Youth are the world’s fastest growing demographic – particularly in developing and middle-income countries. They have the energy and ideas to lead their nations into fairer and more prosperous futures.
But 60 per cent are not in regular employment or education, with poor prospects of getting a good job. VSO is working to make sure the skills and opportunities needed to realise potential are available to young people, so they can choosoe their own future - like Bangladeshi Habiba Akhter.
In Bangladesh, 30% of the population is young. More than two million young people enter the job market every year but a large proportion – particularly young women - lack the prospects for sustainable employment.
Habiba Akhter is 18 years old and a member of a VSO-supported youth club. Through VSO, she received training on repairing mobile phones, and along with other members helped set up a computer centre where she now works.
“Somebody came here and asked what sort of training we were interested in. Five of us – two girls and three boys – said we wanted to learn mobile phone servicing,” she Habiba says.
“Even though I’m young in age, many people respect me as I’m skilled, so people respect the skills not the age. I feel like I’m a role model. In not dependent on anybody and I feel so happy and empowered. I can fix things.”
Opportunity means choice
Habiba is making 4000 Taka (£33) a month by fixing mobiles, which she is using to fund her own education, as well as support her parents. It’s also meant she’s been able to resist plans for her to be married. She says:
“It’s rare for a girl to be independent at my age. My mother sometimes tells me that I have to get married but I can say no – it’s not what I want.”
“Many families don’t want their daughters to have an education. Without the income from phone repairs it would be very hard for my family to pay for my education. I always get good results. I want to study and become a college lecturer.”
Reaching more people
Habiba is one of almost 146,000 women and girls who were reached in 2014/15 by VSO and its partners working on improving employment skills and opportunities.
Whether by providing mentoring, improving the quality of vocational training on offer or by providing microfinance to small enterprises and young entrepreneurs, thousands of people are getting opportunities to make a better living through VSO each year.
Could you volunteer to help more people access the opportunities and income that can give them real choices in life?
Could you make a donation to help VSO improve opportunities, health and education for even more people?