Over 70% of Somalia’s population is under the age of thirty, however, the unemployment rate for youth in Somalia is 67% — one of the highest in the world*. In Puntland, university graduates face limited job opportunities – and despite seeking practical work experience related to their field of study, are often overlooked for positions, in favour of older and more experienced candidates. The 2012 UNDP Human Development Report noted that over 60% of Somali youth have the intention to leave the country in search of better prospects.
To address this critical problem, a Young Graduate Program was developed in 2014, supported by JPLG/UNDP with the Ministries’ of Interior and Local Government Associations in Puntland. The Young Graduate Program aligns the institutional resources and capacity needs of the Ministries’ of Interior and Local Governments with the skills of new Young Graduates. The recruitment of these Graduates is done through a transparent and merit-based recruitment process, with all Young Graduate applicants subject to the same procedures.
In Puntland, there are 25 Young Graduates (including 7 women) placed in the 7 target districts.
Each Young Graduate has a workplan, in line with the Local Government priorities, the JPLG annual work plan and the capacity needs assessment of the institution they are attached to. The first year is focused on training where they are mentored and supervised, nurturing their growth and giving them a chance to acquire valuable work experience.
Young Graduates receive a monthly stipend through JPLG/UNDP. After a year, Young Graduates who receive a successful performance review are given the opportunity to apply for a “permanent staff” position in line with a transparent merit based recruitment process and as long as the district budget is sufficient.
In Puntland (August 2015), the Ministry of Interior, supported by JPLG/UNDP convened an induction training for the first Young Graduates. The purpose was to improve basic understanding on the roles and responsibilities of local government and increase understanding on how the Program links to the Puntland Government’s decentralization vision and decentralized service delivery. The training ensures efficient integration of Young Graduates into local government departments so they are able to contribute to improved service delivery from the early stages of their employment.
Shukri, a young woman in the programme, is 25 years old from Eyl district. She has a degree in Public Administration/Management. She saw the advert for the Young Graduates Program posted on the internet and advertised in public places. She has always been interested in government and politics from her school days and is keen to learn more. She also wants to work for the people of Puntland – and use her degree to develop her leadership skills and gain more management experience. Her friends are impressed that she has a good career ahead of her. She is excited about working on local service delivery as she feels that people living in rural towns deserve services - and it will be good for them to be a part of a participatory process that delivers more effective transparent and accountable governance. She also hopes the government understand that the youth want to participate in and contribute to their society, but they need the experience and the jobs –and more opportunities like the Young Graduate Program.
Faduma, is 29 years old and from Bosasso. She attended university in Garowe and obtained a degree in Information Technology. She saw the Young Graduates Program advertised in a newspaper. She decided to apply as she was keen to learn more about local government – and pass on her knowledge acquired during her studies - to her contemporaries. She is looking forward to working for local government which has objectives and goals. From what she has learned, she believes that decentralized service delivery to districts is a good idea and will benefit all citizens of Puntland. She is happy to get this very valuable work experience. Faduma’s friends are immensely proud of her achievement.
Abdirahman is 21 years old and from Gardo. He went to university in Garowe and has a degree in Computer Science. A friend told him about the Young Graduate Program and he decided to apply. He wants to use what he has learned through his studies, to contribute to his community – and make use of his communication and team building skills. He also hopes to learn more about local government. He hopes that in the future the government will come up with projects for young people so donors are not left to implement them. He hopes that the government will take matters into their own hands and work to provide services and work to improve the lives of people in Puntland.
Abdirahman Mohamoud is 26 year s old and from Galkayo. He has a Masters in Administration and Finance. He saw an advert for the Young Graduate Program in the Puntland Post. He wants to use his skills, especially in financial reporting and proposal writing, to contribute to the development of the people, especially in his district. He wants to acquire more knowledge – not just in his field but related to governance and hopes to build relationships with stakeholders in his district and learn about their functions and how he can work with them to improve lives.
In 2014, the State Government of Puntland approved legislation passed by both the Parliaments’ and Presidents’ endorsing a Decentralization Policy . This provides the political, administrative and financial scope to decentralize service delivery, to districts with sufficient capacity, in prioritized sectors which are health, education, water and sanitation and roads.
Support to the evolving process of decentralization in Puntland has been provided through the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Services (JPLG). Through a Local Government Young Graduate Program in selected districts the Ministries of Interior and Local Governments, supported by JPLG/UNDP, is working to develop and safeguard human resources capacity, strengthen institutional capacity and further promote gender equity at the local level.
With the generous support of the EU, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the UK, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. In 2016, JPLG continues to strengthen district capacity in support of improved public service delivery to citizens. JPLG/UNDP support to the State Government of Puntland helps create policies, regulations, manuals and guidelines which contribute to strengthening capacity and which are relevant to all districts. The momentum towards improved systems and processes is encouraging the rehabilitation of vital community infrastructure, creating economic opportunity and strengthening livelihoods.
* According to the 2012 UNDP Somalia Human Development Report