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Empowering young people in Zambia

 The SOS Vocational Training Centres provides young adults with the skills they will need to secure reliable employment
The SOS Vocational Training Centres provides young adults with the skills they will need to secure reliable employment

With high unemployment rates in Zambia, many young people struggle to find suitable job opportunities in the country. The SOS Vocational Training Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, provides young people with the skills they will need to secure reliable employment. Charles and his siblings have been able to continue their education thanks to the support of the SOS Family Strengthening Programme in their community.

Charles was born in Kanyama, a district on the edge of Lusaka’s central business sector. His parents divorced when Charles was just an infant. He and his two older brothers stayed with his father. His youngest brother and two sisters went to live with his mother in a different region of the city.

Charles explains that living apart from his mum was difficult, but in 2001 she gained custody of all of her children. Although this was wonderful for the kids, Charles’ mother struggled to care for all six of them without a reliable source of income. Life started to became unbearable for Charles’ family. Then, SOS Children began to work in their community in Zambia and noticed the conditions of Charles’ family. The family joined the SOS Family Strengthening Programme in 2011 when Charles was 17 years old.

From poverty to possibility

Two young men sitting on a couch with their mother in Lusaka, Zambia
Charles (in the middle) sitting with his brother and his mother at home in Lusaka, Zambia

Through the interventions of the programme, Charles managed to complete his education. He had already completed primary school, but was now able to complete his secondary education. With all of his siblings in school, their household suddenly became a centre of homework and aspirations.

Unfortunately, post-secondary education was not possible due to the family’s limited income. “I tried my best to get access through government and private institutions, but it was not to be,” explains Charles. However, the situation changed in 2015. Charles was awarded a scholarship to study a power electrical course at the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Lusaka. Charles is set to graduate at the end of the year and his youngest brother will be enrolled at the centre in 2016.

Unemployment in Zambia

Finding a job in the capital is a challenge. The national unemployment rate is estimated at 15%. Among the most affected are young people who make-up the majority of Zambia’s 15 million population. There are limited recreational facilities, limited access to job opportunities and a lack of funds to support their business initiatives. Like many other young people, Charles faces such challenges. When he is at the training centre, he works odd jobs to help support his mother.

“Young people in Zambia must organise themselves to contribute effectively to societal needs. I really look forward to our government coming up with deliberate youth employment policies that will favour us,” says Charles.

Hopes and future ambitions

“I would like to continue my education and venture into the world of information technology. I am very grateful for all the support my family and I received from SOS Children,” says Charles. He explains that he looks forward to owning his own business one day and employing other young people. 

Find out more about how SOS Children is empowering young people through education.