On 22 November 2022, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the French bilateral development agency, Agence Franchise de Development (AFD) celebrated the official closeout of the Liberia Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP).
The program initially targeted 11,000 Liberian youth (50% men, 50% women) between the ages of 18-35, and most impacted by unemployment, in the counties of Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa with market-driven skills and employment opportunities.
The LEEP Program was however expanded to 13,000 Liberian youths, who financially benefitted from the 3-year- program financed by the Agence Franchise de Development (AFD).
It focuses on raising employability and creating employment for Liberian youths. The approach also benefits local business partners, such as TRIBE Liberia, MWESTANA Consulting & Technology Group.
Sharing their experiences and benefits, Karl R. Smith acknowledged Mercy Corps, and the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Youth & Sports, for the benefit of their National Youth Service Program.
Karl said it smoothly enhanced the growth and development of young people.
Karl further said the MWESTANA Consulting & Technology Group was able to partake in the Youth Entrepreneurship program, by training about 350 youth in coding, programming, and software development.
By 2030, as the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion, the youth population will increase to more than 1.3 billion.
Pervasive unemployment, underemployment, and longer school-to-work transitions are some of the most significant challenges facing the rising youth population.
These challenges are the result of the lack of adequate professional opportunities for young people, and increasingly skewed skills imbalances, shortages, surpluses, and mismatch of skills acquired versus those demanded by the world of work.
To cope with evolving skills demands, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems, countries around the world are investing in new learning pathways.
They are setting-up innovative initiatives and programs and developing new partnerships.
Responsive skills development programs need to ensure not only functional consistency with the demands of the world of work but also the development of transversal skills and competencies that enable youth to respond to changing industry demands.
Highlighting the presentation of LEEP, Edward Onyuka, Team Lead of LEEP said the program was a four-million Euro youth employment program operating from 2019 to 2022.
Mr. Onyuka said the Youth Employment component of the project targeted about 9,700 and benefited 11, 294, which is 116% achieved.
He said the Youth Entrepreneurship targeted 1,300 youth, but benefited 1,603, which is 123% achieved.
For the Private Sector engagement, Mr. Onyuka said it targeted 15, while there were 18 actual beneficiaries.
Speaking on behalf of Youth and Sports Minister, D. Zeogar Wilson, the Deputy Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and Training at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Peter Bemah acknowledged that youth unemployment in Liberia remains high.
He added that the program has helped enhance and impact the capacity of Liberian Youth.
He lauded the AFD and Mercy Corps for the LEEP initiative which he said was able to buttress the government’s efforts in creating employment and education opportunities for young people to become vibrant, resourceful, and involved contributors to nation-building.
For her part, Mercy Corps Liberia Country Director Miji Park reaffirmed Mercy Corps’ commitment to working with collaborative partners for youth development.
Also Speaking, Mr. Christopher Cottet, AFD Country Director, renewed his institution’s commitment through the government of France in partnership with the Government of Liberia to continue youth and developmental engagement.
He commanded the youth of Liberia for the interest and commitment they have shown over the time of the program. –Press release