6 September 2019—Four development events were held in Torit’s state capital this week targeting youth empowerment and employment. The events, running from Monday through Thursday, included the Torit Job Fair, a Business Development Link event, handover of the Torit Vocational Training Center, and a youth dialogue to promote peacebuilding. The activities were organized by the Youth Empowerment and Employment project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and in partnership with the Torit State government, and the Torit Chamber of Commerce.
Torit Business Development Link
At the business-to-business (B2B) encounter, over seventy local business owners, producers, and entrepreneurs across the state’s counties converged in Torit to attend the launch of the Torit B2B Link. The event, first of its kind in the state, aimed at bringing together the local business community to form stronger partnerships among themselves and to grow and expand their businesses.
“This is the best time to promote the growth of the private sector and the empowerment of young entrepreneurs,” said Torit State Governor Hon. Tobiolo Oromo, adding that the state is peaceful, and both the opposition and the government are working side by side to implement the revitalized peace agreement.
‘’Youth empowerment is a very important activity. Youth are the majority in the country and are the most vulnerable group in South Sudan, and they are most exposed to conflict and violence,’’ Hon. Tobiolo stated. ‘’If we [are] to keep peace in South Sudan, we have to engage youth by creating jobs and opening businesses for them.’’
Mr. Marc Mazairac, representative of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said: “It is inspiring to see business people forging a road to development. There is no doubt, progress can only be achieved if development efforts are combined with a smart business approach. Torit has a special place for us in the Netherlands, and our collaboration and support for the state will continue,’’ Mr. Mazairac said.
Participants asked the Government to improve road to reduce cost of transportation of goods, facilitate access to loans, and provide market and store spaces at affordable rent, including facilities. They also urged agencies to build their capacity in business skills, and the private sector to improve the network connection to ease communication.
Torit Youth Engagement Forum
The Youth Engagement Forum brought together young men and women to discuss issues affecting youth empowerment and development with state government officials. Youth representatives presented challenges affecting their welfare and livelihoods to Torit State Governor Hon. Tobiolo, who attended the event as the guest of honour along with ministers, the Mayor of Torit, and other senior state officials.
“This is the first forum of its kind in the state. The youth had never been given the opportunity to express themselves openly and table their challenges to responsible people in the state. This is a great day for us, as it’s a youth-to-youth and youth-to-government dialogue,” said youth representative Mr. Patrick Oriem.
“As the youth of Torit State, we want jobs and opportunities for self-employment. We are dynamic and ready to take up challenges,” emphasized Ms. Khofi Gua Florence, a Youth Engagement Forum attendee.
The youth asked for transparency and equality in employment opportunities, scholarships, vocational training, as well as financial support to start small businesses. They urged the government to fight tribalism and corruption in the state. They also urged UNDP to build the capacity of the state’s Ministry of Labour on recruitment and employment policies.
On his part, Governor Tobiolo urged the youth to organize themselves and concentrate on unity, peace and stability. He promised to ensure issues of integrity, ethics, fairness and transparency are observed in youth employment in government institutions.
Torit Vocational Training Center Handover
A third milestone event in the state was the handing over of Torit Vocational Training Center (VTC). The center is currently providing three trades; brick laying and construction, joinery and carpentry, and tailoring. The VTC is being run by the Ministry of Education for sustainability. UNDP has partnered with the Ministry of Education and UNIDO to introduce new trades and build the capacity of the trainers in the five states where the Youth Empowerment and Employment project is being implemented. After conducting a needs analysis with the youth, they have expressed interest for ICT, Welding and Fabrications, and Mechanics. UNIDO agreed to initiate all these trades including Agriculture.
The Trades will start as short courses; 2-4 months duration to ensure the youth don’t lose patience but learn skills quickly enough to go in the job market. The short duration will also allow for more youth to be trained and to benefit from the center. The VTC now has a total number of 75 students which is small a number as some trades take up to 9 months. At the Job Fair, over 200 youth registered to join the VTC.
With funding from the kingdom of the Netherlands, UNDP is rehabilitating two buildings, one building will be used as the One Stop Business Center, Innovation Hub and Career Advice center while the other building will be used for the other trades.
Torit Job Fair
More than two thousand young men and women attended the Torit Job Fair, hosted at Freedom Square. Hon. Governor Tobiolo was joined by representatives from UNDP, along with state ministers and dignitaries, to tour the various sections of the job fair.
“This job fair is an opportunity for our youth to engage with organizations and institutions. Education and training are key to employment and development,” said Hon. Governor Tobiolo during his formal remarks to open the fair.
“Torit is in a state of peace and stability, and that is why we have this job fair. We thank UNDP and the Kingdom of Netherlands for recognizing this and for coming to support our youth,” said Deputy Governor Hon. Margaret Itto, at the opening.
“The job fair is about availing job opportunity to our youth, mentoring them on how to seek jobs, apply for them, and prepare CVs in a professional manner,” said Hon. John Savio, Torit State Minister of Finance.
“I want to highlight the importance of peace. With enduring peace, youth will not only need to look for jobs but can be prepared to start their own ventures and businesses. UNDP is here in Torit to support young people to acquire knowledge, get trainings, and create their own businesses,” said UNDP Team Leader for Human Development and Inclusive Growth Mr. Daniel Kir.
Each of the events hosted in Torit this week are part of UNDP’s Youth Empower and Employment project, supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They are the latest engagements following earlier collaboration in Yambio, Gbudue State; Bor, Jonglei State; and Juba, Jubek State.