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Honing skills of young people to secure jobs

Maiesong learns cooking skills at Siamtriaangle Hotel, Chiang Rai Province.
Maiesong learns cooking skills at Siamtriaangle Hotel, Chiang Rai Province.
April 27, 2012

Meetee worked since the age of 12 to support her parents and two younger sisters, and to help pay for the education of her older brother. Until recently, she could not read or write.

"However, my brother finished only grade 9, and then he got married and left the house," said the 23-year-old, a stateless ethnic minority from Thailand’s northern Chiang Rai province. "I knew that if my brother left the house, the burden would fall upon me as the oldest daughter."

Meetee is one of 1.3 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who will enter the global workforce over the next decade. This "youth bulge" – amounting to half the world’s population and 60 percent in some developing countries – represents the largest cohort of job seekers ever. However, most of these young people are poor, and their future will likely hold few opportunities and continued poverty.

Plan is tackling this challenge by providing vocational training for young people – in countries including Thailand and Indonesia.

Stateless and illegal

At age 12, Meetee worked in a factory in Bangkok, for $125 a month. At 17, she was earning only $150, cleaning and washing at a hotel in Chiang Rai.

"I was unable to read and write… Any job that earned me money, I had to do it."

Then during a four-month Plan-supported training course in hotel management, she learned to work in restaurants, make hotel beds, and cook, and received support for a formal education. After the course, she was promoted to the lobby front desk, and got a raise to $250.

"Although I am stateless, I have no more worries about my future because I have a good job to support my family."

Easier to get a job

When 19-year-old Santi graduated from high school last year, her father wanted her to get married. She preferred to work. "In my mind, after graduating from school I had to get a job because my parents’ financial condition is poor… Without skills and experience I couldn’t get a decent job," Santi said from Grobogan district in Indonesia’s Central Java province.

She signed up for the Plan’s Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) program to learn basic job skills. She immediately landed two job interviews and began a well-paying job in February at a coffee production company.

"It has been such a surprise that with the skills and confidence I got from YEE, I found it easy to get a decent job," said Santi, who earns enough for herself and to provide pocket money for her younger brother.

Learn more about Plan's work to promote economic security for young people.

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