Highlighted results

Programmes launched to equip young people with skills. For results in the wider field of education, visit the education page.

Programmes launched to increase young people’s prospects of work. For results in the wider field of employment, visit the page on private sector development.

Various initiatives. Support was given to 50 young social entrepreneurs from developing countries to take part in the One Young World 2019 summit. See also theme strengthening civil society.


There are nearly two billion young people in the world today, the largest cohort ever. The majority live in developing countries. Around three-quarters of the population of Africa is aged below 35. That is good news, because a young population fosters economic growth. To achieve this, however, youngsters need access to good quality education and decent jobs. Focusing on young women in particular;

we support education that contributes to young people’s prospects for work and strengthens their voice in society

we support businesses in creating jobs for young people

we strengthen young people’s voice, for example through meaningful participation in our policy cycle and in dialogue with international partners


Young people have their lives before them. They are entitled to the right skills, knowledge and opportunities to build a stable future for themselves and their countries. The Netherlands also benefits, because stability in Europe’s neighbouring countries brings security and economic opportunities.

The Netherlands invests in quality education, which also provides young women with opportunities. We are striving to help provide decent work. Young people need work that is safe and that gives them a decent income. We support young entrepreneurs. Young people with a successful business of their own are able to earn an income for themselves and give other young people jobs.

It is especially important to link education with work. That is why we involve businesses in organising courses. We encourage them to provide work experience placements. We want easily accessible information on job vacancies. In everything we do, we work as closely as possible with businesses.

We devote particular attention to refugees, internally displaced persons and the people who shelter them. The majority of refugees find shelter close to their country of origin, for example in Jordan, Ethiopia and Sudan. They live there for an average of 18 years, so they need schools and jobs in that time. To enable refugees to get a grip on their lives, with prospects for the future, we are committed to providing education and work and the necessary protection.

We also want the voice of youth to be heard. To promote this, we ourselves set a good example by listening to what young people have to say.


The Netherlands has launched a number of programmes to help young people get a good education, a good job and a decent income. Most of these programmes are only just getting off the ground, so it is too early to present extensive results. Our main programmes are:

the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment, through which we ultimately aim to help 200,000 young people find work;

the Nexus Programme for Skills and Jobs, through which we are exploring what is needed in eight countries to align education more closely with the labour market;

the Prospects Partnership, through which we are helping provide refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable host communities with more and better education and jobs.

We are already achieving results in employment and education in the wider sense. For more information, go to the pages on private sector development, education and Prospects for refugees & migration cooperation.

Example: education and work in Lebanon

Lebanon has high levels of youth unemployment, including among young refugees. One in three young people in Lebanon is unemployed. Moreover the quality of education and training is often poor, so that young people are not learning the skills businesses need.

We are therefore working to strengthen education, and to this end support a local partner organisation. Working with several schools for vocational education, this organisation will improve the quality of teaching. With the organisation’s support, these schools will then provide short courses for young refugees and Lebanese youth.

What these young people learn and the knowledge and skills they need will be determined partly on the basis of the needs identified by businesses. The programme of short courses will also be tailored to students’ existing knowledge and skills.

The courses will focus on digital skills like web design, for example, but will also help young people with a learning deficit.

Poor literacy and numeracy skills make it very difficult for young people to find work – but also to continue their education and learn a skill. Young people with good literacy and numeracy skills are generally far better equipped for day-to-day life.

During their courses, students will acquire work experience and traineeships will be sought for them. They will also learn how to do in a job interview, and what they need to look out for in job vacancies.

Promising students will also find out how to start self-employment. Young people with digital skills, like computer programming and web design, can themselves take on assignments and start their own businesses. They can also look for clients outside Lebanon.

Our partner organisation is also investing in platforms to connect young jobseekers with businesses, through new or improved websites, for example.

In everything it does, our partner organisation takes account of young women and the extra challenges they face. Their parents expect them to do household chores on top of their training, or assume that after marriage they will become full-time housewives. Programmes therefore engage with young women’s partners and parents.

Dutch support to our partner organisation will enable around 1,400 young people to undergo training through this programme. Half of these young people are women. 500 young people will also receive support in setting up their own businesses. Through improved work platforms, we also aim to help 5,150 young people find a job.

Setting an example: listen more closely to young people

The Netherlands holds extensive consultations with the governments of various countries. They are ultimately responsible for the position of youth in their countries. In our talks, through the embassies or the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, we emphasise the importance of engaging with young people in policy and development programmes.

During her trip to Sudan and Ethiopia in February 2020, foreign trade and development cooperation minister Sigrid Kaag urged the governments of these countries to take young people seriously. Young people played a major role in the demonstrations against the former regime in Sudan.

Young people should be closely involved in both designing and delivering our programmes. Youth organisations must have scope to do their work properly. Read about the action we take on the page on civil society.