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Skilling Youth for Lifetime Success

Worldwide, the demand for economic resiliency and sustainability has never been greater than it is now.  Accelerating markets for new goods, services and technologies and the unprecedented urgency to address climate shifts and global socio-economic inequities call for a workforce that is skilled and agile.   For more than a decade, Save the Children’s youth employability programs have been evolving in tandem with local labor demands  to equip adolescents and youth who are most impacted by inequality with the practical skills and networks they need to find decent jobs or build their own business and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. 

Save the Children is investing significantly on ensuring today’s youth are prepared to enter the workforce and have the knowledge and pathways to do so.   Our agile and youth-centric livelihood ecosystems are tailored to drive employment opportunities that meet the specific immediate and anticipated needs of local labor markets, including building green skills and growth mindsets. The result: 1 million youth in 47 countries have benefitted from Save the Children’s youth livelihoods programs.

Our Global Response

Economically secure households provide a more stable foundation for children to stay healthy, be protected and thrive. Recognizing that today’s youth are tomorrow’s parents and caregivers, we are building on Save the Children’s established strengths in education, protection and community development to create and scale up an evidence-based approach to the youth employment. Save the Children takes a distinctive, multilevel approach to ensure that youth make a successful transition to adulthood and break the cycle of poverty.

In emerging and developing markets around the world, our youth economic opportunity programs equip deprived and at-risk adolescents and youth with the skills and job linkages they need to find decent jobs or build their own businesses. Our programs offer market-driven employability skills, entrepreneurship, vocational training, on-the-job training, career counseling, mentorship, job linkages, financial literacy and good savings practices, and business startup services to young women and men aged 12-to-24, living in urban and peri-urban communities. Our approach ensures maximum impact in the communities we serve by building the capacity of parents, teachers, mentors, employers, and community and non-profit leaders and advocating with government agencies for systems level change to make training more relevant to the needs of employers, open access for deprived youth to safe and rewarding jobs and improve workplaces that employ youth.

Youths Livelihoods At a Glance graphic

Youth Voice – Transforming Economic Opportunities

A young girl works with a tape measure as part of Save the Children’s Skills to Succeed program in Indonesia. Thanks to the program, she sharpened her employability skills and tripled her income. Photo credit: Susan Warner / Save the Children, December 2013.


Forced by poverty to stop school after 8th grade, Sabina was earning $30/month in a tailor’s shop. Then she participated in our Skills to Succeed program for 9 months, gaining employability skills and modern vocational training. After the training, Sabina more than tripled her income. “My next destination,” she says, “is to be floor manager in large garment-industry business.”

A young woman waters plants in her café in Ethiopia. She participated in a work-readiness training through Save the Children, where she learned business skills to help her succeed. Photo credit: Save the Children.


Kemer dropped out of school in 7th grade and immigrated to Saudi Arabia for work, but returned to Ethiopia disappointed. She then enrolled in POTENTIAL’s work-readiness training, which renewed her motivation and upgraded her business skills. “The training helped me to identify my mistakes and made me learn from them. It taught me about customer service, community mapping, saving and other important lessons,” she recounts. Her café is now full of customers, and she is an inspiration to many young girls in her home town.

A group of men gather together for professional training as part of the Cocoalife program. Photo credit: Save the Children.


Though only 24, Triswandi was elected to the executive committee of a farmers’ savings and lending group organized by our Cocoalife program. “This process has contributed to enriching my communications and leadership skills,” he says, “and even how to manage people who are older than me, which is sometimes very difficult."