Young people globally have told us that making a living is one of the biggest challenges they face.

A billion young people will be entering the jobs market over the course of the next decade - and only 40% are expected to be able to take on jobs that already exist. That means 600 million more jobs need to be created if we are to realise this generation’s potential. Traditional approaches to earning a living will not be able to close that gap alone.

We ensure that young people are thriving, not just surviving.

That is why our Living goal focuses on the type of work young people are doing, not on their income alone.

Our approach is different to more traditional livelihood programs.

While the more traditional approaches still have value, we need to go a step further and focus on a young person's future just as much as their present situation.

Bead making Karamoja, Uganda

A young community member makes traditional crafts and clothes on our cultural tourism project in Karamoja, Uganda

How does Living go further than livelihoods? Here are our four steps:

1. Looking at the future

Livelihood programming typically looks at what young people are doing in the present, whereas our living work expands on this by looking at what young people want to be doing in the future. We then look at how we can help them overcome obstacles that might prevent them from realising their aspirations.

2. It’s about Quality of life, not just a job

Livelihoods see success in terms of income and having a job or business. We look to measure success more comprehensively, by including additional components such as young people’s wellbeing, economic empowerment and potential to influence policies that affect their quality of life.

3. Young people’s lives are complex journeys

Livelihoods work often focuses on structured pathways for young people to follow, such as a pathway to entrepreneurship through business and financial skills training or a pathway to skills development through access to different types of education.

Our living work recognises that life is more complex than this. For the young people we work with, making a living does not materialise through a single pathway, but instead through a complex journey. We support them along their journey.

4. Each young person’s journey is different

In Livelihoods, the support you get depends on the pathway that is decided at the beginning. Our living approach goes beyond this, understanding that young people need a package of services targeting their changing circumstances, skills and abilities.

A farmer in rural Uganda

A young farmer is sorting grain in his village in rural Uganda

Putting these four steps into practice

To identify what barriers need removing in order for young people to have control over their lives and personal growth, we begin by speaking to young people themselves. We have trained young researchers across the countries we work in and beyond.

Through youth-led research such as this, we have found out from young people themselves that they are combining formal, non formal and unpaid work simultaneously to support their living. Therefore we support young people both within the formal and informal sectors.

Importantly, this includes influencing business policies. For example in Uganda, our young campaigners successfully changed the law to introduce a national minimum wage.

With the scale of the jobs challenge previously outlined, incremental change simply will not be enough. We need innovation - and young people are best placed to deliver that.


Our approach to Living is grounded in our research.  We recently partnered with the University of Cambridge to take a closer look into youth experiences and opinions of work in developing and emerging economies, brought together in a report - Getting by: young people's working lives.

Meet some of the young people who are driving innovation.

From the blog.


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