Decades of violence and instability has left the majority of the population in South Sudan deprived of their most basic needs – let alone a shot at a brighter future. Weak state capacity and high national debt as a result of protracted conflicts has seen education systems destabilised with 51 percent of children out-of-school. Undiversified industries, heavily reliant on oil, have also seen unemployment creep up.
Dorcas works to close this critical skills gap and provide concrete pathways to work through our Skills for Work programme. The programme, implemented in collaboration with Light for the World and Edukans, is designed to develop sustainable livelihoods and create productive employment opportunities for younger generations in remote communities.
The focus is on entrepreneurial skills training to help young adults ‘catch up’ on vital years of schooling, identify strengths and familiarise themselves with basic business concepts. But it doesn’t end there – participants are supported to find a job or launch their own business through the provision of start-up grants for promising business ideas. Once it’s off the ground? Youth work in small groups to develop a business plan and problem solve issues alongside running their own small business. In this way, Skills for Work also contributes to the rebuilding of trust among communities.
Leave no one behind
Our inclusive community-based approach also acts to boost the resilience of vulnerable and marginalised groups – such as women, girls and people with disabilities. We embrace diversity and teach participants how to reject stigmatisation, deal with trauma and treat each other with dignity and respect. Disadvantaged individuals become local role models contributing to a change in mindset. In the context of South Sudan, this approach is largely unique. It embraces the nexus between humanitarian aid, development and peace-building – and provides opportunities for society to flourish as a whole.
The Skills for Work programme came to an end at the start of 2020, but, due to its success was resumed with some minor adjustments. In the new programme – Vocations Skills and Livelihood Improvement (VSLI) – we continue to partner with Edukans and Light for the World. Taking into account the learnings we had gained from Skills for Work, more emphasis is placed on the creation of job opportunities for both contract workers and the self employed, including but not limited to business management training, provision of grants, development of business plans and the establishment of a small business. People who follow the programme are also encouraged to form business groups and work together in cooperatives so that their newly established business can thrive for years to come.
27 July 2020