Youth in Laos are legally entitled to work from the age of 15, but many employers adhere to strict 18+ only hiring policies, hence excluding a significant proportion of the young workforce. Many who do find jobs, end up in unregulated sectors and are at risk of exploitation or working in hazardous conditions. At the same time, youth unemployment rates in Laos are high at approximately 41% (ILO). The Centre (formerly ‘CCR CSR’) worked closely with Mekong Timber Plantations (MTP) to turn the tide on this trend and instead, empower youth through skill and career-building opportunities.
Following the kick-off of the programme implementation in the summer of 2019, in which suitable positions for young workers were identified and soft and life skill training sessions were carried out, MTP directly hired two young workers in September 2019 to work in the nursery department. As part of their commitment to empower more youth, they also reached out to local communities to get more young people to join the training programme. Fourteen additional young people aged 15-17 years were recruited from nearby villages via the village administration and advertising in the community’s public places.
Who are the youth in this programme?
Almost all of the recruited youth came from farming backgrounds and were highly motivated to gain as much experience and skills from this programme as possible, in order to increase their chances of a bright working future. Almost half were school drop-outs who ended their education early because they needed to earn money or because they couldn’t afford the tuition fees.
According to a survey with the participants, 53% realised that the biggest impediment to career progression is lack of education, while 47% identified lack of technical skills as a major obstacle.
What is being done to boost their career progression?
In order to support these young workers to find suitable jobs, MTP and The Centre created a four-day training programme that covered the following topics on essential skills:
Career planning (1): Define your interest and purpose for job
Career planning (2): Career development
Basic literacy and math for job
Hygiene & reproductive health
Harassment, discrimination and abuse at work and self-esteem
Refresh and preparation workshop for facilitators
Basic computer skills
Basic on-line protection
Leadership and team work
What did the training programme achieve?
Following the training, the participating youth learned about their rights as young workers and which positions and job types are suitable for their age. They also learned about harassment at the workplace for the first time, which will strengthen their awareness of workplace safety when they enter the workforce. Those still attending school reported being more motivated to continue their education after the training. Attending this training programme also whetted their appetite for more skill-training opportunities, with the majority expressing a desire to access more career training opportunities in the future.
Photo: The training programme participants with their certificate of completion at Mekong Timber Plantations.
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