AkzoNobel and Plan International Netherlands have been working together for 25 years to improve the living conditions of children and young people in developing countries. AkzoNobel is a global market leader in paints and coatings. In this partnership the emphasis is on Youth Economic Empowerment, through targeted vocational training to help disadvantaged young people to access the labour market. Together, AkzoNobel and Plan have made possible more than 50 projects in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The Education Fund was founded with AkzoNobel on a commitment to improve the quality of education for children in developing countries. It has also developed a focus on improving young people’s employability and career prospects. Sarah Keur-O’Neill, Head of Partnerships at AkzoNobel, says: “For years, AkzoNobel has been committed to the communities in which we operate. Together with Plan International Netherlands, through our joint Education Fund, we help young people towards a future in which they can have a good job – including in the paint industry. I am proud that we have trained thousands of young people in the 25 years we have been working together.”
Helping young people to find a job and look to the future
AkzoNobel is currently making possible projects in China (Chengdu) and India (Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand) in which disadvantaged young people, mostly girls, receive vocational training or learn how to set up their own business. While their countries having growing economies, these young people see hardly any benefits: their education does not match the needs of the labour market and they lack the necessary professional skills. More than 2,200 young people have already benefited from these projects by finding decent work that offers them the opportunity of an independent future. Through these projects, Plan and AkzoNobel ultimately want to train and offer job opportunities to around 4,000 young people.
Opportunities for girls in ICT
Although the technology sector in China is developing at lightning speed, the benefits are bypassing girls in rural areas in particular. Rural areas of China are often more conservative than urban areas, and have fewer resources. AkzoNobel and Plan are joining forces to offer a better chance of a future of their choice to 800 children (65% girls and 35% boys) aged between 10 and 14 in Jia County, a rural region. The project aims to integrate STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the region’s schools, and in particular to encourage girls to develop their ICT skills, including robot programming. The students also receive training in gender equality and life skills, such as building their confidence and decision-making skills. With these practical skills, young girls and boys will be more prepared for the job market and have a better chance to build their future.