Yemen has been a member of the ILO since 1965 and has ratified 30 ILO Conventions, including all eight fundamental conventions. The ILO in Yemen has worked on building peace and resilience by creating jobs and income opportunities, enhancing employability as well as strengthening institutional capacity in conflict-affected areas.  

Yemen continues to experience economic and humanitarian crises as a result of consistent instability and conflict, the most recent of which began in March 2015. Indeed, persistent turmoil in Yemen since the 2011 uprising has contributed to interrupted labour market development as well as a deterioration in skills and human capital.

The ILO in Yemen

Yemen has been a member of the ILO since 1965 and has ratified 30 ILO Conventions, including all eight fundamental conventions.

The ILO in Yemen has worked on building peace and resilience by creating jobs and income opportunities, enhancing employability as well as strengthening institutional capacity in conflict-affected areas.  

The ILO’s work in Yemen centres around three priority areas:
  1. Promoting employment and private sector development
  2. Enhancing efforts to address child labour
  3. Strengthening labour governance and international labour standards
In addition to providing technical support to its constituents, including government institutions as well as workers’ and employers’ organizations in Yemen, the ILO is currently implementing two major projects in the country:
Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen
Based on the successful implementation of the first phase of the “Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen” (ERRY) programme between March 2016 and February 2019, a second phase was approved for funding by the EU and SIDA, which extended the programme for another three years, covering March 2019-Februry 2022.

Phase II of the programme is implemented by UNDP, ILO, WFP, and FAO and seeks to support crisis-affected communities to better cope with risks and increase their resilience and self-reliance. The interventions target the country’s most vulnerable communities, including women and unemployed youth, as well as the marginalized, the internally displaced, and host community members. Through this collaboration, the ILO is working to improve community livelihoods and productive assets in order to enhance resilience.

The project trains farmers and residents of rural communities on starting and sustaining projects and provides labour market information. It aims to promote the technical, marketing and entrepreneurship skills of community members and support small rural entrepreneurs (such as dairy collectors and female-headed households who produce homemade dairy products).

To support employability through on-the-job training and to create sustainable livelihoods opportunities, the project will train up to 2,000 beneficiaries who engaged in the previous phase of the project. This will be achieved by upgrading and improving competency-based training curricula in high market demand sectors.

The project also trains female farmers in agricultural business development services, marketing skills, saving schemes and in diversifying livelihoods, in line with curricula certified by the ILO in entrepreneurship and in developing small businesses. Other activities include building the capacity of the private sector through training and follow up support related to participatory planning to sustain businesses at the governorates level.

Another component of the project focuses on supporting vulnerable communities with solar energy solutions to create sustainable livelihood opportunities and improve the delivery of social services. This will be achieved by upgrading and improving competency-based training curricula in new solar energy technologies in line with the needs of youth and women, and by providing vocational training in skills related to solar energy for women and youth technicians. This will enable them to play an active role in the provision of solar energy supplies in their own communities through small businesses. More information can be found here

Protecting children and youth in Yemen from recruitment and use in armed conflict
Since joining the ILO’s Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 2000, Yemen has made steady progress in combating child labour in cooperation with the ILO. ILO-IPEC has implemented a series of interventions with key institutions involving several ministries as well as the employers’ and workers’ organizations. Interventions included a broad range of national initiatives in the areas of: capacity building; promoting and coordinating partnerships; improving policy, legislation and enforcement; building and using the knowledge base on child labour; awareness raising, and social dialogue. In 2010, the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) of the Republic of Yemen, in collaboration with ILO-IPEC, the Social Development Fund and UNICEF, conducted the country’s first National Child Labour Survey (NCLS). The findings of the NCLS were made public in January 2013.

Since 2018, the ILO, with the support of the US Department of State (USDOS), has been implementing a project that seeks to protect children and youth in Yemen from recruitment and use in armed conflict. The project aims to prevent the recruitment of children and youth as child soldiers and to reintegrate children formally associated with the conflict.

As of December 2020, the project has built the capacity of Yemeni local actors and communities on reintegration, prevention, use and recruitment of child soldiers in their communities, including through a monitoring and reporting mechanism for timely collection and advocacy action to promote and safeguard recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.

Through the project, three youth-friendly spaces have been created, where 937 children and adolescents have accessed recreational, psychosocial and life-skill education services. A total of 46 youth at risk of violence have been trained in social or leadership skills, and 98 youth were provided with mental healthcare support.

Based on three market assessments that were conducted, 300 child soldiers have been identified, out of which 200 were provided with career counselling and orientation on the most marketable skills. A total of 70 youth were able to access apprenticeship opportunities, which included training methods, how to arrange the work environment, aspects of occupational safety and health to transfer their acquired knowledge to work sites, applying the professional competency approach, and how to evaluate the learners’ skills acquisition. In addition, 168 youth acquired functional literacy and numeracy skills. More information can be found here

Technical Cooperation

Employers’ Organizations

The ILO has been active in building the capacity of employers’ organizations in Yemen for many years.

In 2019, the ILO, in collaboration with the International Training Centre (ITC), organized a regional workshop to provide technical assistance to enhance the employers’ role in skills development programmes and their participation in the recovery of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system in Yemen.

In addition, a capacity assessment was undertaken in August 2014 for the Federation of Yemen Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FYCCI). During this process, a capacity building workshop took place with six FYCCI representatives at the ILO International Training Centre in Turin where the Effective Employer Organization was introduced to improve services provision to members of employers’ organizations. 

Workers’ Organizations

The ILO continues to provide technical support to the workers’ organizations as the agency endeavours to reach its goal of providing Decent Work to all Yemenis.

In collaboration with several workers’ organizations in Yemen, the ILO continues to organise workshops and meetings to create a platform for social dialogue in Yemen, help these organizations influence the socioeconomic and political process in the country as well as enhance their capacity to influence policy discussions.

Despite the worsening security situation, the ILO continues to provide technical capacity building to affiliates of the General Federation Workers’ Trade Unions of Yemen (GYFWTU), including participation in regional and international workshops in other Arab States as well as the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin.

Enterprise development, skills and employability

Skills development has been integrated in ILO programmes in Yemen for years. Since 2016, skills development interventions contributed to building peace and resilience in Yemen by creating jobs and income opportunities, enhancing employability and strengthening institutional implementation capacities. Key achievements included:
  • Training 1,765 vulnerable youth and women (45 per cent women) through upgraded informal apprenticeships in 11 priority occupations, 72 per cent of whom have been engaged in income-generating activities;
  • Developing 17 competency-based training (CBT) curricula and submitting them to the Ministry of TVET to be adopted and utilized nationwide;
  • Training 618 master craft workers (31 per cent women) in learner-centred pedagogy, competency-based training and assessment (CBT/A), as well as Occupational Safety and Health;
  • Finalizing the TVET strategy to provide market-relevant quality programmes that will increase the employability of trainees and their access to decent jobs, taking into account the fragile situation in Yemen. Despite two validation workshops organized for stakeholders in Sana’a and Aden, the formal endorsements by authorities has been delayed due the political context and the cabinet reshuffling.
  • Based on a Training Needs Assessment, the ILO drafted a Yemeni women specific entrepreneurship development-training package, entitled “Women Business Owners Training”, (now referred to as “Women Do Business”). Based on this package, the ILO conducted Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops and subsequent refresher workshops to refresh the trainers’ knowledge and ensure their readiness for the delivery of the planned training workshops. The Training of Trainers workshops were followed by Training of Entrepreneurs (ToEs) workshops through institutions targeting Yemeni women who had taken a loan to either start small businesses or expand their current business.
  • Under the framework of the Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) project phases 1 and 2, the ILO has capacitated 105 business development service providers and trained 5,265 beneficiaries with two ILO training modules, “My First Business” (MFB) and “I Too Have a Small Business”. The ILO also trained participants from SMEs on business continuity planning and resilience.

Past joint achievements

Damage and Needs Assessments (DNA)

In collaboration with the World Bank, UN agencies, the European Union and the Islamic Development Bank, the ILO contributed to a dynamic in-crisis preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment (DNA). With a specific focus on the impact of the conflict on livelihoods and the economy, the DNA quantified the on-going conflict’s effects on critical infrastructure, physical assets and service delivery across key sectors in Yemen. The ILO has contributed to subsequent Damage and Needs Assessments by conducting a rapid assessment of the conflict’s impact on employment in Sanaa, Aden and Taiz. Another two assessments were conducted to measure the impact of the conflict on Technical Education and Vocational Training sector as well as on Small and Meduim Enterprises (SMEs) in the city of Sana’a.

Youth employment

Skills development reform remains an area of crucial importance for enhancing youth employment. Progress was made over the past ten years to increase the outreach of the technical education and vocational training system, but further reform is required. Between 2012 and 2016, the ILO implemented a project entitled “Integrated support for young women and men in Yemen to access decent work,” to help build the capacity of skills training providers and business development service providers to improve employability and entrepreneurship among young women and men in Yemen. 

The ILO has also engaged in a joint ILO-UNDP programme to formulate a Strategy for Youth Employment in Yemen. The Strategy was endorsed by the Yemeni cabinet and international donors in Sep 2013.

Labour governance

The disruption of the economy associated with conflict in Yemen caused a significant drop in economic growth which has accentuated the pre-existing unemployment crisis. Moreover, a distinct lack of up-to-date information on the topographic and demographic characteristics of unemployment in the country has restricted the development of well-targeted government interventions to address this crisis.

Up-to-date labour force statistics are also needed in order to address employment issues such as labour migration, informal activities and youth unemployment. The International Monetary Fund, the donor community, the Social Fund for Development as well as workers’ and employers’ organizations in Yemen have all emphasized the need for a regular and sustainable Labour Force Survey. The ILO project “Support to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour in Labour Management Information and Employment Policy,” resulted in the publication of Yemen’s first labour force survey (LFS 2013-2014) in 15 years. 

Economic Recovery

The complexity and uncertainty of the situation in Yemen, as well as the importance the Government of Yemen and the International Community have placed on the transition period, demands a multi-sector response to create the conditions for a peaceful and successful transition. Accordingly, the ILO has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Programme, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to create short-term employment and rehabilitation of livelihoods to restore socio-economic infrastructure at the local level.

Ultimately, the project aimed to improve incomes and create employment to lay the foundation for economic growth in the medium term and, most importantly, generating immediate, visible peace dividends that contribute to a peaceful and successful transition in Yemen.  

Gender Equity

Since 2005 the ILO has been engaged in several technical cooperation projects on promoting gender equity in Yemen. A series of projects have focused on the capacity of Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour and other partners to enhance and coordinate the implementation of the national strategy on women’s employment as well as promote decent work and mainstream gender issues.

The results of these projects include the implementation of the National Woman Employment Strategy (2001-2011) and a Policy Advocacy Network for Women Workers in the Health, Education and Agricultural sectors that sensitized over 20,000 women and men workers to their rights and entitlements to decent work and gender equality and established an advocacy platform encouraging positive perceptions of women workers in Yemen in the media.